On the evening her hair fell away, Alia felt the air around her scalp, soothing her pores. The linoleum floor was littered with red strands, curled in bundles around her ankles. She knelt down and gathered each thread, running her fingers through. She licked the tips and tied one to her arm, starting at the fore and crossing the elbow all the way to her shoulder. She tied the other end to the buckle of her belt. Soon she had hundreds of strands strung from belt to outstretched limb. Sitting quietly on the corner of the kitchen counter, knees swinging, she strummed each one with a purposeful calm. And the sound that came whirring from her makeshift harp set the sun alight.
If the arthritic trees in the charred forest bend too far forward, their branches dig into the ashen soil and fuse with the screaming nutrients. The dew on the remaining leaves bubble. Steam rises from holes in the ground. The parakeets whistle melancholic tunes. Children once played here.
[If you ask, they’ll mail you the album. Or go to a show.]