Bella Marie Swan was a girl who now, after running and running and running for her entire life, felt again as though it had become some black-tar road split wide, a cracked spine of one of the novellas sitting in her bookcase back home. It pounded into her head like a sick joke block-buster produced into a slick tarmac launch pad which only held dead bodies, an overgrown forest with invisible party lines

The bed of her truck was freezing below her back, the only thing that reminded her that the cool slip of midnight was not some waking dream.

Skimming her fingertips over the flannel laid down beneath her kept her grounded. It bound her roots together in manageable chunks. The broken gospel in her head quieted. All that was left: a child dumped behind her home. A cluster of lambs waiting out in the rain. A hand, held out.

The sky was a thousand different shades of silence that night. Stars dotted the hills in swirls of white. She saw her hand start to reach up, as if to touch them, as if the universe were her personal mobile.

Bella reined herself in to just watching. Lying in the back of her rusted out behemoth, breathing in air that belonged to Nowhere, Texas. A puckered hole in the eastern stain of one of her father's maps. She reminded herself that staying in one place for longer than a breath wouldn't kill her. But the gravel in her tires just might.

With a sigh she folded her body in the tightest curve she could muster, clamping tight to bring the muscles in her spine back to their regular shape. A stretch of the palms, a shake of the ankles brought a crease to her brow. Her sightline refused to stray from the tapestry before her, all million blooming gardens of the universe brought down to her height.

A rogue blink to the fields stretched out before her reminded her mind of a particularly dry summer that held her mother's horrible quilting stint. Eight weeks of constant skin pricks and busted needles. She was still finding cotton swatches behind the couch the day she left Phoenix.

The mismatched familiarity of the wheat sprouts and milo bushels did nothing for the hurt in her chest. The only thing she cared about in it all—the muffled mass of green of Forks couldn't reach her out here.

No matter how sharply the memories flashed in front of her eyes, she didn't believe she could ever collect enough rain to keep such things alive this far south. Just sugar and tobacco and everything else you're not supposed to have.

A considerable jump down from the bed covered her boots in a fine layer of red dust. Not enough for the soles to even budge— just to be nit-picked about. A wayward kick to her tires shed it.

The walk to the front of the truck was almost silent, the crunch of rock dissipating in the air like locusts. But a step up on the ancient running board almost landed her flat on her ass. A loose bolt being the only chance in hell of holding the sucker to the chassis. The old metal arm of the side mirror proved to be Bella's safety net as she cussed at her own forgetfulness. Six months gone it's been. And she still made the same mistake every night.

Another roll of duct tape to put on the shopping list.

Wedging open the metal door frame, she slid in— her jeans becoming a lit match on the vinyl seats. The keys, decorated in dime store blue nail polish, were already hanging out of the transmission. Her hand went to twist for the millionth time that month—and stopped. She brought her hands outwards, anchoring them onto the cracked steering wheel as she pressed her forehead to the edge.

Drawn out and slow, her heart lowered into the pit of her stomach. A silent alarm. Crossing her eyes, she rolled her neck to the ceiling, as if in prayer. The cuts and the tears in the roof lining allowed them to refocus. Absently, her wrist found the ignition once more, bringing the beast alive with a hard rev.

The roar of the engine failed to shake her fully alive. So much so that it had become second nature to hold herself in the steel cab when the shadows started to appear at the corner of her vision. Ghosts haunted her every move, even still.

The sheer brightness of the forty-year-old headlights momentarily stung her retinas to attention. For just long enough.

Involuntarily as it was, a shiver ran from the back of Bella's skull to the skin of her toes. One hand gripped the steering wheel, the other wrapped around the shifter. It passed in waves: the ocean calling her back to that night Harry Clearwater died. Its siren song was, could not be, not anymore, not now, strong enough to still her forever. Putting the great beast into gear she eased onto the gas pedal, pulling herself out of the ditch. She only clenched the wheel tighter in response.

The pull of the Texas sky sunk in deep around the headlights— leading her south.