Merestone, 1.C.4, 400 words

Something is sliding down the dune. A vague steam wraith loops up when the moon crests the mountains. In no twilight walk has he ventured into the dunes, untrustworthy as they are, moving imperceptibly down the valley in tumbles and breezes. At the edge of the rock field the moon in miniature glares on the reflective outcropping of an errant material. A tongue tip of black glass arcs away out of the dry sheet of sand. The edges are tumbled. It glimmers in slow swirls that the scarves of clouds up the valley twist around it, seeming to spin in place. Twill disinters it and lays it flat across the sand. His palms show in its dusty pupil, skinned in the tired colors of the Milky Way. Into its face the entire night sky is drawn until it appears that star cloud, sand breeze, bearded gasp, mountain code, quilted bed sea, and carpet desert are but projections spilling out into a dish from its lens. A low breathy breeze leaks cold air and compressed and tumbled visions of cast away nights drowned in the sand. He speaks to it as he raises it up. “Tell me, what it is like, to be found, finally.” Though torso-sized in its outline, the flat stone is heavier than it appears, bearing phantom legs, arms, and head. He moves it on his back reaching around to grip its flared rump sagging and succumbing between his fingers. It absorbs the sound of his breathing. Twill gathers a low flat-topped mound at the edge of the rock field and wedges into it the cold black blade. The clouds atop the valley wall trundle past. The crest of the ridge draws out from lucid murk and old glow is retained in the dunes and flushes the lower wash where he sits. Moonlight catches a banner of fine sand blowing from the lee side of a low dune. The slip of luminous powder traces out far across the dunes to where they fall off the precipice of the valley and wind away behind the foothills. The dunes have an inexorable willpower to move. The wraith is visible again in the blowing sand, riding atop the dune. Twill crawls in the sand until the highest dune crest is aligned with the knife tip of his black merestone. He marks the spot where he sits with a low rock armchair.

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