"What are you doing?" Nadira asked as she stopped beside him.
He dropped his arms and shrugged. "Waiting."
"It's stupid, you know? The way we internalise things. Our perception is skewed from birth."
"Okay, maybe not from birth. But from young, anyway."
"What do you -"
"It's nothing. Come, let's go."
The air was still. Stifling. They'd hugged awkwardly when they met for lunch, rearranging limbs around each other. When had he grown so tall? He'd been an inch shorter than her the last time they met. When he'd suggested they take a ride after lunch, she'd said yes, because how could you deny a childhood friend you haven't seen in decades - at least a decade?
So here they were. Not that she knew where here was. Hot. Sunny. Dry. Sand. She could disappear into this desert and no one would find her for months.
"It's in our heads, as much as we try to deny it. As much as we say we're good enough, we're capable enough, we look at our work, our careers with hypercritical eyes and pick out all the problems, all the hiccups. And then we look at the Other and say it's good. Even when they're doing just about the same as us. Or worse. But they're failing with confidence and we're... we're performing with self-rejection."
"Riz?" Maybe she should have declined. After all, she hadn't met him for so long, she didn't know if he was safe, if he was sane. "Is something the matter? Why are we here?"
"Open skies. The heavens are open, but we install our own glass ceilings."
"I'm getting worried here."
His lips quirked upwards. "I'm not going to kill you. Or do anything to you. I'm just..." He slumped on the ground against his car. "I'm just so tired."
Nadira sat down beside him. After a while, she put her arms around his shoulders, pulling him close to her chest. "Rest. Tomorrow will be better."
Dust and sweat. Cigarettes and spice. Clear, blue, open skies. A day for living.
Nutso boy— GinaYapLaiYoong (@GinaYapLaiYoong) October 26, 2017
here's one I had my writers' group do this week. What happened to this couple? https://t.co/aZbFJLXQFO— Barbara Lovric (@BALovric) October 26, 2017
What I used: a boy has a crazy idea, ending up with him and friend in the desert.