The town has a sky shaped like a dome, like you’re in a snowglobe. On sunny days, the mountains look so 2 dimensional and fake that you can practically reach up and curl your fingers over the flat edge.
There’s nothing to do here and not a lot happens.
Except for that one time a few years back when that man came down from Tucson. He was on the run for something or other. He took a family hostage but ended up blowing his brains out in their bathroom. My friend pointed out the house to me one time.
That’s the house we’re going to tonight, me and Eliza.
Other than that, we are one of the safest places in the US. Our HOA makes sure we stay that way, always vigilant in keeping every house a shade of tan and outlawing chalk drawings on the sidewalk. And treehouses. And basketball hoops, but they haven't sent us a letter demanding we take down ours yet.
Tonight was supposed to just be ice-cream tonight, but the monsoon rains seeped into my window that we always forget to fix. Then all the power went out. The only thing lit up here is the wildfire on the mountains that isn’t going out even with all the rain.
Eliza wanted to ride our bikes there but I’m too scared. I can imagine someone driving and then the flash of blue metal reflecting headlights and then the crunch.
So we grab flashlights with sticky handles and tell my mom we’re stopping by the park.
It smells like rain and wet mesquite pods, soft and bitter. On hot summer mornings we have to crouch and pick the curly yellow pods up. Sometimes I eat them out of curiosity because that’s what the peoples who used to live here did.
The house looks like all the other houses. Two stories, dusty tan, a palo verde tree outside. The only distinguishable feature is a little sun wind chime hanging on the porch. The house is dark, like all the houses on the street.
There wasn’t a plan. It was just the closest thing to a haunted house.
We sit on the sidewalk outside and scratch things into the sidewalk with the little rocks everyone has instead of grass.
“I can’t wait to leave in two years.”I make a twirly heart that I can barely see.I say it too many times, like all suburb kids.
“Far far away…” Eliza laughs and rolls her head back to the cloudy sky.
I wonder what they had to do with the bloody wallpaper or tile or if the family ever really got over it.
I feel bad sitting in front of their house like a tourist attraction. When I tell Eliza this, she shrugs and says it’s not like they know.
Which is true.
We have a neighbor who lives all alone and he orders from Amazon everyday, usually more than one package. I think the record is 18.
I have to imagine ghosts and cactus flower fairies and tragic happiness when I’m in this town as small as an open palm.
By the time we walk back to my house, the power is back on. We eat ice cream and sleep curled towards each other in a heart shape, until I wake up to Eliza’s hot breath and turn to my other side.