The plain was measureless. Aside from offering the occasional visual cue in the form of a tarweed shrub or boulder, it held no real sense of distance or direction. Further, though Jared felt movement—the rhythmic plodding of his horse sent soft vibrations up through the saddle horn—there seemed a lack of forward inertia. The earth acted as if on a great axle that was slowly spinning in counterbalance to the horse’s hooves. As hooves punched into parched earth, dust gathered around the mount’s hindquarters, and from a distance it appeared as if the animal trod upon a low-flying cloud: the world’s first wingless Pegasus—in flight, yet bound by oppressive heat to the ranks of the lower atmosphere . . .
In my mind I could hear the phone ringing, but my eyes were fixated on the first page of a chapter in my thesis that needed work. All I could think about was how sick I was of that thesis. It all seemed pointless. None of the contents of this two hundred–page document was going to change the world in the slightest way . . .
It cut through me like a knife. Not a sharp one—quick and hot and over immediately, no. That would have been too simple. Jacob’s first meltdown was more like a dull, rusted blade that sawed its way back and forth over my heart . . .