TITLE: OF STARSHINE AND ASHES
GENRE: YA SCI-FI (TIME TRAVEL)
She appeared in late afternoon, at the tree line where our mowed grass ended and the wild woods began. Gene and I couldn’t help but stare. With the leaves stuck in her hair, and the way she squinted at the sun just begging it to melt the slits of her eyes, and her naked-as-a-broken-jaybird body, we were left to conclude that the only possible explanation was that she’d been born in a hole and abandoned there.
But we knew the ranch woods better than our own skin; never once in our seventeen years had we seen a girl our own age out there. We’d never seen anyone out there at all.
When she managed to unglue her eyes from the sun, the sight of us seemed to stop her short: two slackjawed ranchers in cowboy hats, Wranglers, boots, plaid shirts with the sleeves rolled up. Pick-up trucks, hay bales. The usual. For people who’re from these parts.
We stared, in the kindest way possible, at her face.
She stared back. Blinked. Brought a hand to her temple, where a line of three little stones sparkled, embedded in her skin. “I found him,” she said, pressing into the diamond closest to her eye. And then, again—little more strength, little more awe, lot more desperation: “I found the—”
She fell in the grass like an arrow-pierced dove. But there was no arrow, no archer. Just a pale pile of limbs and an unfinished sentence.