A great expanse stretches, lonely, dry. The sky is empty, and the house threatens to fall up into it.
They have been here for a week. A month. Andre is no longer certain. There had been a reason they were there, but it is now forgotten. The sun sits in the same place each time he looks, and his clock ran out too long ago to recall. There are two of them in the house, Andre knows this. There is him, and there is the other, but Andre cannot recall the face, or even a name. He no longer feels hunger, nor does he need to sleep. After a while he feels certain that the flat will drive him insane, but there is nothing to do except sit and watch it.
Sometimes, he thinks it moves.
Lily Hallow spends her time in front of the mirror. Her brother teases her, but he is beautiful and does not understand the need to find a face. She curls her damp hair up and leaves it to dry, washes her face and pats on moisturiser, leaning forward as she plucks the offending eyebrows.
Time is of no consequence. She puts on her face and then examines herself from every angle, even stretching her neck upwards to see how her chin looks from beneath.
After a while she blinks, and wonders what she is doing. She takes the pins out of her hair. She gets up, and in the bathroom sink she washes her face. Another piece of time stretches out like frayed rope, and then she sits down again and begins, slowly, with infinite care, to remake her image.
Two children in a playhouse screaming and shouting to each other. Their parents try to call them home but the words stick in their throats. When they try to cross from the picnic bench their feet stick to the ground and they find themselves stepping fowards backwards fowards backwards.
This goes on for weeks.
It is a very happy day. Crystal and Hyde smile at each other, their family arrayed around them, the dining table filled with food and flowers and half-filled glasses of the very best wine. Hyde holds up a glass and proposes a toast. Everyone is still laughing at some other joke, and he waits a moment for silence to fall. The cat leaps onto a vacant chair beside Crystal’s mother, who surreptitiously feeds her a piece of cold chicken. Her husband nudges her in admonition, but she tears off another piece anyway.
The toast is never said.
The call to prayer carries much further than the Muezzin intends as the sweet spring winds mingle the words with the leaves.
He repeats this again and again and again and again.
The worshippers never manage to pray.
Somewhere, asphalt begins to melt.
It is the only thing in the universe that changes.