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FICTION


myself. I showed Amber and she said told me to shut up. She was so touchy. She hated for me to touch her stuff. I’d play her records and put on her white blouse with the gold threads running through it and look through her drawers. In her underwear drawer, I found the map to her secret place in the office park across from the Ford Plant.


I’m pretty sure Amber’s favorite sound was a Beatles song, even though they drove that man crazy. Crazy like Jim, who came back from Vietnam with a tattoo of a heart on his palm and goes up to people on the street and screams “Look at the sacred, bleeding heart of Jesus.”


The office park is full of plain white


buildings, but in the middle of the parking lot there is a waterfall. If you walk past it and follow the path up the hill there is small circle of fir trees. Inside the trees there is a place with logs to sit on. I went there once during the daytime – the ground was covered with beer bottles and something that looked like the finger of a glove was lying in the dirt. The place looked kind of nasty if you ask me, which no one ever does. I woke up in the middle of the night one night and Amber was gone. I was pretty sure she went to her secret place. I thought about moving the blue painter’s tape or spending the rest of the night trying on everything in her closet but I decided to go and find her instead. I got dressed and put my house key around my neck. I got out my bike and headed for the secret place. Man, was it quiet at night. I passed dark houses and thought of Lucy snuggled under her comforter in her pink


bedroom. I thought of Dad working the line at Ford, the air humming with noise. Then I thought about Amber hidden in the pine trees and wondered what it would feel like to do anything you wanted.


As I got to the office park a pink light


was spreading across the sky. I leaned my bike against a boulder and started up the path. I could hear sounds above me. Breathing, trees shaking, grunts and gasps of air. I ran the rest of the way and into the space between the trees. Some guy had Amber against the tree. Her jeans and panties were around her ankles. Her eyes got really wide when she saw me. “I’ll go get help,” I yelled and started running down the path. “Jake, get off me,” Amber yelled. Then “Sarah, come back.” I ran through the office park and toward the road that separated the park from the Ford Plant. Shift change. Cars were leaving the plant parking lot, their drivers eager for a cup of coffee, a drink or a warm bed. I timed it just right and made it through the traffic and across the street.


I looked back to see Amber running


after me. She didn’t see the car coming. She was looking at the horizon and the pink morning sun on a bed of clouds. She was wearing her Rolling Stones t-shirt, the one with the tongue on it. I love the Rolling Stones, who as far as I know have never driven anyone crazy. I like their song about clouds. I imagine Amber on her cloud, other angels come to visit. I bet when she gets tired of them she says, “Hey you get offa my cloud.” I hate their song “Paint it Black.” It reminds me of the darkness and all the things I’ve ever lost. Stuff that rolled under my bed or just disappeared. When it comes on the radio I go out in the front yard and look up to the sky. I find the sun and take a good long look until everything goes red and I have to close my eyes.


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