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just a picture of a cloud
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Georgia Lee sat on the grass in the shade of a tree. She'd been jogging: a fool's endeavour in the Arizona heat, but a necessary one. Being able to run was a useful skill. Being able to run, but only if the weather's perfect and the mood is right and the stars and planets are aligned just so; no, as skills went that was close to pointless. Anybody could run when it was pleasant, that didn't prove a thing. When it was awful, when the road looked wet that it was so hot and the birds all lined up in the streetlights' shadows, that was when it actually meant something.

Now, though, she was taking a break. She took a swig of water, then poured a little into a cupped hand and splashed it onto her face. She was sweat-drenched and could taste the unblock she'd applied earlier. It was bitter and greasy. Salt stung her eyes, and she rubbed at them with the heel of her hand. Her breathing was heavy, but not laboured: she wasn't particularly tired, just very, very hot. Georgia Lee stretched out her legs and then rubbed them down, so as not to cramp, before lying back. She took deep, even breaths, and stared up at the sky.

A kite whirled in the air above her. It was cut in the shape of bird, but huge, and it moved more like a great fish, cutting and darting about in the midday sky. There was something deeply relaxing about watching it, almost meditative. Georgia Lee watched it, as her chest rose and fell, and imagined what it would be like to be a bird. Rather boring, she concluded. No goals, no purpose, just flying around, and how long would that be entertaining for? A year or two at most, which would probably be the entirety of your meaningless bird-life.

In her book, there was discussion about whether the beasts of the land or the birds of the air were a higher order of creation. The author was convinced that, although they were created on the fifth day, they flew closer to the heavens and were therefore closer to God. Georgia Lee remained skeptical. She'd seen enough birds dash their little heads to bits against her windows to not put a great deal of faith in their intelligence or merit.

As if on queue, the kite made a sudden nosedive towards its master, who gave a little shriek.

Georgia Lee sat up, looking at the crash, and took another swig of water. The kite was larger than she'd realized, she saw now as it lay on the ground. The shrieker struggled beneath it, tangled, and Georgia Lee recognized her - Lili Williams. The girl was utterly void of drive or ambition, but she was also pleasant and friendly, and her and Georgia Lee got on well with one another. As Georgia Lee watched, Lili managed to escape the grasp of the kite, and entered into conversation with some black girl who Georgia Lee thought she recognized from the year above.

Well, she didn't want to get in the middle of that, whatever it was. When Lili happened to look over, Georgia Lee gave her a wave, but she made no move to get up from her place in the shade.

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In C. · Liberty Park