Image by Team GHB

:: previous – Peaceful Days at Home


Hey girl.

Tehanie texts me out of nowhere.

Omg. Where are you?

I text back.

Let me guess… Weston is hopping mad?

SCARY mad. He holds a belt in his fist when he asks about you. Are you okay?

I’m better, just had to get my mind straight. How is Weston, though? And Lux?

He’s quiet. Not like himself quiet. Lux too. Emilian’s worried you bailed as our wedding planner.

No way! That’s all I’ve been doing. It’s a great distraction. I got the venue booked, the decorator’s set, invites go out soon and I’m picking up your dress tomorrow. After that, it’s the cake and flower order left.

Tears fill my eyes.

Don’t worry, Misa. I’m not Khiana. I wouldn’t bail on you or Emilian, no matter what goes on between me and Weston. Kay?


I’ll be back soon girl.


I promise.


I put my phone down and watch Emilian and Mark outside looking at the sky.

Most of the neighbors have gathered on our lawn with them. Some have coffee mugs in hand, or are still in their pajamas, all curious about the monstrosity hanging over our existence.

Looking at the sky only makes me dizzy.

The empty hourglass bulb is on its side, stretched across Black Mountain and likely over neighboring lands, Emilian suggested last night.

It’s strange… Like a huge, weird sticker someone stuck to the sky that looks like it could squish our lives into pulp if it fell. We can barely see the glass bulb in its entirety, and the other bulb, assuming there is another, is far beyond our sight. No one knows for sure since authorities suspended all sky travel.

Guess we should be relieved there isn’t sand falling inside.

But… what would sand falling inside of it look like?

What if that sand stopped falling?

Would it just explode and cloak everything in darkness? Just some… enormous shadow swallowing our world. The sun and the stars, too. We’d be a black circle on a black background. A fading pulse. Final vibrations of a dying world as voices echo nothing matters…

Nothing matters…

No. Erase it.

Stop thinking bad things, or the bad will remain.

I shake off my fears and head outside.

One of our food containers is on the porch rocking chair with an envelope on top.

What’s this?

It’s engraved with cream-colored flowery vines, and already open.

Inside is a note written in beautiful handwriting.


The stew was incredible, and a heavenly taste of your heart.

Thank you for sharing,


Behind the note are two tickets to an upcoming gala with mine and Emilian’s names printed on them. Elegant Wear Only is the dress code.

“Good morning, Misa.” I jump at the sound of Mark’s voice.

He’s standing beside Emilian while he operates his drone.

Oddly, they’re dressed alike today. Khaki pants, pale blue button-down shirts, and white kicks. Mili must be distracted, otherwise he would’ve changed clothes.

“Mark left you something.” He says.

His tone feels cold.

Nervously, I hold up the note and tickets in my hand. “Got it.”

Ugh. Maybe this distracted him.

I quickly put the tickets and container on the sidetable inside then head back out.

Emilian stares in my direction as I descend the porch steps. Even with his blackout square sunglasses on, I can feel his eyes all over me.

“W-What are you guys doing?” I stand beside Emilian.

“Trying to see if this will reach.” He presses important-looking buttons on the remote he’s holding.

Mark and I catch each other’s glance. He smiles like we share a secret.

I look away.

More neighbors converge around us.

“A little to the left.” He tells Emilian. Mark’s eyes are still on me as Emilian looks up. I can see from my peripheral.

“What will the drone do?” I ask.

“Take photos, collect data.” Emilian grins at the sky. He’s loving this. “Hopefully we can get something. This baby only goes up a thousand feet.”

“News is reporting that the Crown Secretary is holding a conference about the hourglass.” Mark says, reading from his watch. “Finally. It’s been up there since yesterday.” He squints at the sun. “Maybe they know what’s going on?”

I look up at Emilian. He brushes his arm against mine with a warm smile.

How can he stay calm when something so unnatural hangs over us? It’s frightening.

Why is it here?

I wish we could hide beneath the sheets naked and forget the sky.

“Three hundred feet.” Emilian says while monitoring the map on the remote screen.

Everyone quiets as the drone ascends higher until it’s a speck against the mighty bulb.

“Will it reach?” I ask, anxious. The farther it travels, the more afraid I get.

“Hopefully.” Mark says.

We stare at the sky in collective silence when the drone vanishes beyond the clouds.

At once, the birds feasting on the tree feeders in our yard quiet.

“Is it getting shots?” I ask. “What’s it show on the screen?” I try to peek over Emilian’s arm.

“Connection lost?” He gawks at the screen. “No…”

Back at the house, my forever sunflower waves its leaves and hops up and down in the window of the empty room.

“Watch out!” Mark pulls me hard in his grasp.

Someone screams.

We tumble across the lawn as the drone crashes down with a thundering bang, bursting into pieces on impact.

“Fuck!” Emilian shouts over the panicked commotion.

Mark’s racing heartbeat pounds against my back. I’m wrapped tight in his arms, smelling his fresh cologne and trying to catch my breath.

“I got you.” He whispers.

Through the smoke, I see Emilian running over.


I was just standing there…

He pulls me out of Mark’s grasp.

“I’m sorry—” He looks me over, hugging and kissing me. “Are you okay?”

“Yea… Ow.” I rub my shoulder, looking at the broken pieces strewn across the lawn. “I’m—I’m okay…”

“You sure?” He eases my hand aside.

I nod and let him massage the pain away. “Are you?”

“I’m okay if you’re okay.” He whispers. “Fuck…” He holds my face in his hands. “That could’ve killed you… I’m so sorry.”

My lip trembles.


It’s always here.

My eyes well up again.

He wraps me in his arms, rubbing my back reassuringly.

“Thanks, Paper.”

“Ah… Don’t mention it.” He brushes the grass stains off his khakis with his bare hands, smiling as if nothing crazy just happened. “We can’t lose Misa.”

Whispers surround us. A metallic smell fills the air. Some people take pics of the damage.

“Aw, Mili, your drone…”


Through fading smoke, I see the name SkyGrim on a piece of twisted metal. My heart sinks. Emilian spent months building this drone. I remember how he kept it showcased in the corner of his office at Grim Systems tinkering with it. Every day it grew bigger and serious looking. Weston was impressed, too, which made Emilian deeply happy.

“Can you rebuild from this?” I hope.

“No.” He shakes his head. “I’ll have to start from scratch.”

“It’s burned.” Mark says, nudging a charred piece with his sneaker. “I didn’t see a fire up there… Did you?”

Emilian shakes his head. He flings a piece of metal down, scowling.

“I didn’t.” I whisper.

“Well, what the heck happened up there?!”

Someone yells from the growing crowd of neighbors.

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