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Kimberly Nichols

In the eighties Ana's sisters craved glittery danger. The nineties were one big free for all. The year 2000 is one big party of jazz in the house on the hilltop, blowing grooves for the world to hear. Ana San Francisco is on the prowl.

"It's only when I'm in nature that I find my clarity. And then the world comes stumbling in to intercede," Ana says to Emo. Rust graveyards float by on their way to Yucca Valley. They are en route to visit friends before hiking in Joshua Tree. Last night, Ana took dove's blood, walked into the living room, and dabbed it on her best friend's wrist. She told her it was for matters of the heart. It wasn't real dove's blood. The trick, Ana thinks, is in taking a pick. Not sampling everything in a whirlwind of stressed insanity.

Joshua Tree is a massive lesson in decomposition, in worlds crumbling and shifting. Of man eroding. Softened pillow rocks lie like giants on an earthenware past. Chasms rip down the center of an old woman lay dying. San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica needn't matter.

Ana's good friend Smith writes beautiful poems. He draws too. Pencil or black ink masterpieces depicting any form of deviation. In one of his juxtaposed collage novels called "The American Book of the Dead", the first line reads: So tired of Malfunction, Rewind and Restart.

In the early evening they arrive at a packed campground. Up here, all kinds come to get away from the bustle of everyday life. There is a group from Orange County at the adjacent site. Emo wanders over to see if he and Ana can take a peek. Ana follows and looks at Saturn. Everyone gets real excited as she views the glowing white rings. Later, while everyone else sleeps, Ana walks around the campground. She looks at the cars, the tents, the shoes lying beneath picnic tables, bumper stickers, and dinner remains. She is trying to choose a life. Disgust, exhaustion and thirst are main ingredients in her motivation. Daylight is long gone. The campers sleep on.

Ana crawls into the tent with Emo. He smells like s'more remnants. Emo is just like the last one. Stoned, egotistical, oblivious and sexual. She thinks of the other night when it started to stop. When she realized, while holding her hands beneath a stream of running bathwater, her need for total integration. Ana dreams of a game show. She's sitting on a panel of art critics like herself. The discussion falls onto the illustrations of Vasily Kanoff. The pinstriped emcee with the goosey grin says, "So tell me…tell me about your sexuality." "I don't believe we are here to discuss the topic of sex," Ana retorts. Ana holds up a sign to the audience. It reads: They fall in love with my sickness but I don't want any of them. The emcee grins and exposes a piece of cottage cheese and a dot of basil between his teeth. "And what was the topic not supposed to be Ana?" The last one was a lover, then was not even a friend by the end. Emo is somewhere in the middle where Ana wakes up. The morning sun is blinding.

The next day, they drive past Jack in the Box, windmills, the freeway and sand. They are on their way to a cookout in the desert. It is another wasted weekend in one fashion or another. Ana feels her time would be put to better use trying to save the world. Yucca Valley is full of cactus vendors, auto repair signs, ramshackle highway homes and eclectic junk shops selling art, all at about 55 mph.

Ana has a recurring dream where she and Smith are in Greece. They spend their days lying naked on big boulders on cliffs above the sea. Ana lies on her back to soak up the sun. Smith sits to her South as wave foam splashes up from below. He drums his fingers on her thigh and says, Everything is just rehashed Ana. In this dream she feels the sun. She remembers how it feels to be a little girl. She regrets waking up at the end of this blue beach dream.

Ana goes home at the end of the weekend, trumped up on Emo's sperm. As she closes the door of his truck, she says, "From now on Ana equals through-with-meaningless."

Thoughts shift.

Oblivions coil.


Kimberly Nichols is a freelance writer splitting residence between the Southern California Desert where the air is clear and the mountains are magical and Boston for her much needed fix of urbanity. She is a featured freelancer for the local alternative weekly, The Desert Post Weekly. She is also a society columnist for The Desert Sun newspaper. Her non-fiction specialties are women's issues, psychology, philosophy, sex, and art, book, culture and music reviews. Her fiction and poetry has appeared in Feminista, Alternative Arts and Literature and 3AM Magazine (please read “Dirty Minded: Four Chambers”). She also works as a publicist for various bands and artists. In her spare time, Kimberly can be found in the yoga studio, on the dance floor, at the beach or in Greek and Indian restaurants. She is currently at work on a book of poetry and a series of fine art collage entitled Girls of the Hundred Proof Bordello Define Desire.

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