Flash Fiction: Levity (448 words)

“We’re almost out of time,” Jerdan murmured, holding Danneel’s elbow under the bare cover of the doorway.

She leaned against the wooden frame, hand on the cool paneling, head on her hand, and listened close. She watched the rain come down hard. The heavy drops bounced against the dry ground right now, gathering in brown puddles on the surface. In a few minutes, the puddles would sink into the dirt easier than the driving rain, and turn everything to mud.

Mud held footprints too well. They were almost out of time, if they still wanted to run. She could almost make herself believe that it was a biting truth. She could almost breathe it in deep enough to start a panic in her blood. But a laugh came so much easier.

It had been a good long while since she had been out of time.

Jerdan’s hand tightened on her arm, and she realized he could see her giddy smile. Still, it was true. For days and months and almost years she had been lacking a thousand things. She had been out of food, or out of road to run, out of her safety net, but never out of trouble. She had been out of room, and out of thoughts, and prayed she was out of sight. She had been out of place, and out of sorts, and out of bounds, and – thank all the stars – just out of reach. Out of control and out of practice. Out of it. Out of breath, out of fate’s favor, and out of line. She had been out of ideas, and out of her own mind.

And now, she was only out of time.

She would have stopped her smile, if she could only see the point, but she turned and at least looked Jerdan in the eye.

“I know,” she said. “We should go.”

He looked at her as if her smile were too sharp for him, too sharp for her, and he would have liked to take it away before she hurt herself. He swallowed, not knowing how.

“I’ll go first,” he said.

“Remember to stay close to the outer wall,” she told him. “Or it won’t work.”

“I know the plan,” Jerdan said.

Danneel’s smile widened. She knew she shouldn’t let it, but it was keeping her calm. It was easy to breathe for once. She waited for him to move without a thought. It didn’t take thought to race time, and she knew she had all the stubbornness and stupidness she needed, now that she was twisted around, facing off against herself.

She grinned to herself now that his back was to her. She was only out of time.

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