Las Cruces, New Mexico. Lauren MacMillan’s head jerked around as the sign flew by. Her father continued west on the I-10 toward California, away from memories, away from hurt, away from Texas. As the town faded from view, her gaze returned to the unending desert. How appropriate.
Las Cruces. Years ago she crossed this desolate terrain heading east, the world at her feet, her heart full of joy at all she had been given in life. How different life was now. The joy had turned to sorrow, the freedom, an obscure memory. She closed her eyes and dropped her head to the headrest. Behind her closed eyes she saw darkness. Everywhere she looked she saw darkness.
She rolled her window down in the 108-degree heat. Her dad glanced at her and continued driving. He understood nothing, yet he understood everything.
Raising her hand to the wind, she splayed her fingers as it rushed by. The same as she had twelve years ago when she grabbed hold of life. Closing her fingers into her palm, she closed herself into her icy world and wondered again how things could be any different in California. Pain would still strike every waking moment, her heart constricting, aching for the husband whose only return was to haunt her dreams. Her head would process, failing to make sense of his senseless death, to make sense of two boys who needed their dad, needed their mom. She had nothing left to give anyone. Lauren squeezed her eyes shut tight, facing the ever-present shadows. As quickly as it had appeared, the memory of his face faded into the darkness.