The violet-eyed guy is behind me, his arms around my waist.
“Well done,” he says.
I’m pleased at the hint of approval to his voice. Then I’m instantly irritated at myself for feeling pleased by his approval.
I reach my arms out and throw my head back, pretending I’m the one flying. I should really try it one day.
“There’s a reason I came to you today,” he says. I feel his voice vibrate through his chest and into my back. “It’s important.”
“Who are you?” I call back to him.
It’s hard to hear over the chilly air flowing around us and freezing my ears and nose.
“I’m Jude,” he says.
“Piper who?” he says back.
I’m about to ask him how he knows my name when I realize that if he was looking for me, obviously he already has an idea of who I am–even if I’m not sure how he knows me.
“Does our world seem strange to you, Piper?” he says when I don’t answer.
“The Nightwalkers. The fact that we’re sitting on a dove’s back. The walls of the buildings–they were Jell-o one moment and marshmallow the next. Doesn’t this strike you as strange?”
I unfurl my fingers, letting the air flow between them, unconcerned by his words.
“This is our world. This is the way it’s always been.”
“Tell me this,” he says, tightening his grip around me slightly as Dovie dips down. “What comes after elephant o’clock?”
“Do you think I’m a child?” I say, turning my head sideways to scowl at him as best as I can through profile. “Of course it’s seashell o’clock.”
“How’s that possible?” Jude leans forward against my back and speaks directly into my ear. I bend away from him, right into Dovie’s soft feathers. “How can we only have hours? What ever happened to minutes and seconds?”
“What and what?” I said, although something like a memory flickers inside my mind. “Stop trying to confuse me.”
“Reality is cracking,” he says. “It’s splintering, letting in dreams. The dream world and the real world are melting together. It’s affecting all of our memories. Up until now, it’s only been our city, but it’s spreading like a disease.”
“Why are you telling me this?” As I suspected, he’s completely out of his mind.
“Because you need to wake up.” His voice is so soft now that I can barely hear him.
“I am awake,” I say. “You think I can’t tell the difference between when I’m sleeping and awake?”
“Not anymore–not since they became one and the same,” he says. “You have to believe me.”
A hint of desperation hitches his voice. He sounds so sincere and so sad that something in me wants to believe him. I quickly remind myself that I don’t have time for any sort of nonsense.
“I don’t have time for this,” I tell him. “I have more important things to think about right now.”
“Like my wedding.” I admired the engagement ring on my left hand. The diamond echoes the song of the stars.
“Your wedding.” He repeats it in a whisper as soft as a breath. I feel it against the back of my neck.
“Yes. I’m getting married on a cloud. I booked it way in advance so nobody would have it that day. You know how popular the clouds are, right?”
“Oh, really?” There’s amusement in his voice. “What if the sky is clear that day?”
I have nothing to say to that, so my voice is stiff as I say, “Of course it won’t be. Okay, where should we drop you off?”
He leans to the side, so far that I’m afraid he’ll slide right off. I remind myself it isn’t my business to worry about him, but I grab his arms around my waist and anchor them there anyway.
“Right here’s good,” he says. I press my fingers into Dovie’s neck, and she dives to reach the ground. He slides off and says, “Goodbye, Piper. Please try to remember what I said. Also, please stop taking the pills.”
I raise my eyebrows. He has to know what an impossible request he’s making of me.
Snippet Saturday is my chance to share bits and pieces of my writing.