Dovie lifts back into the air and flies a little longer, depositing me onto the side of a cliff. Dark blue and black butterflies flutter overhead, raining drops of absinthe onto me. I close my eyes and open my mouth, feeling the green fairy burn on my tongue. I walk along the cliff, watching a woman jump off the side with her arms outstretched. She does this every night, choosing to die instead of sleep and crawling out of the ocean with the sun.
I continue to the edge of the cliff and walk off. The cliff face opens up for me, carving itself into a staircase, slick and salty from the licks of seawater. The stairs continue down, down, down until the waves are over my head. And still I keep going, until the darkness is vanquished by silver light pooling like a bridge that leads me to a straw hut sitting on the surface of the water. I emerge, completely dry, and enter my home.
Graham stands there, his back to me, watching as a whale breaches in the distance, sending ripples of purple, starlit water crashing toward us. The Milky Way is thick in the sky, and the stars no longer sing a warning but a beautiful song of love just for us.
As he turns around and smiles at me, starlight touches his hair and forms a halo. I shove thoughts of Jude out of my mind and pretend I can drown those thoughts in the ocean before crossing the room into Graham’s arms. He kisses me deeply so I can feel his love and concern to my toes.
“You’re late,” he says. “I was worried.”
“Sorry,” I say. “I ran into some Nightwalkers.”
The words come out a little boastfully. Nobody wants to run into Nightwalkers, but running into them and surviving brings with it a sense of courage and honor.
Graham hugs me close to his body. I feel the muscles of his chest and abdomen shift as his lungs expand and deflate with each breath. As I often am, I’m overcome with the fact of Graham’s beauty and the idea that he is mine and mine alone. I close my eyes and see a flash of violet eyes.
I shake myself mentally. Graham has green eyes. I can’t think of crazy, violet-eyed Jude right now. To prove to myself–and to Jude, even though he isn’t here to see me or hear me–that meeting Jude meant absolutely nothing, I tell Graham about what happened.
His eyebrows pucker. “He sounds crazy. I don’t think I want you seeing him again.”
“Don’t worry,” I say. “I don’t think I want to see him again.”
Graham laughs–a sound that always warms me from inside out. We got to watch the news as we do every night. After a story about an adult leopard-spotted zebra shrinking back into a baby, the news shifts to a more serious story.
“Today the Somnology Institute held a press conference to announce an official shortage of sleeping pills.”
The scene cuts from the anchorwoman to a clip of the press conference. The Somnologist stands at a podium, speaking into a rattlesnake’s tail.
“As a result of a shortage of some of the ingredients required to make the sleeping pill, we are currently unable to manufacture any more. We urge the citizens not to panic, as we will begin production as soon as we get a shipment of the required materials. This may take several months. For now, we ask that citizens hold onto their remaining pills and only take them in case of emergency. If you are completely out of pills, please come and see us for one emergency pill.”
The scene cuts back to the anchorwoman.”Because resources are limited, the Somnology Institute recommends you go as early as possible if you need a refill.”
I turn to Graham. A shortage of sleeping pills? This had never happened before. I think of the lonely pill in my bottle. Thank the Great Fox I didn’t take it tonight. Then I think of Jude and how he said he doesn’t have any sleeping pills left. I wonder if he was lying or if he really is without.
Graham’s eyes are wide and terrified.
“We have to hold onto our pills.” I squeeze his arms. “It’ll be okay.”
Maybe he and I can pool our pills together. I know it’s a little unfair since I’m only contributing one and he’s contributing the rest, but once they are able to start producing pills again, I can pay him back. In any case, we’re nearly married.
“Piper,” he says, “I don’t have any pills left. I took the last one tonight.”
I stare at him for a moment, not understanding. Then the words register. I jump to my feet. “We have to get you an emergency pill.”
“Right now?” he says, glancing out the window.
I follow his gaze to the jellyfish moon. “Yes, right now. I know it’s night, but you heard what they said. What if the pills are all gone by the morning?”
“Yeah, you’re right,” he says, standing up and wiping his palms on his thighs.
I take his hand, and we hurry out of our house, back up the cliff.
“You can’t go.”
Snippet Saturday is my chance to share bits and pieces of my writing.