While Allison and Emil, Kassandra and David, examine the possibilities of falling in love, Leo and Franny explore the territory of their evolving relationship. The terrain is sometimes rocky, sometimes soft, always teaching them about themselves.
They sit with their friends on Allison’s porch, watching the smoke billow from the nearby fire, watching the helicopters, imagining the battle happening on the ground.
“My whole time here, I mean, since I moved here, summer’s brought fire, and smoke,” Franny murmurs to Leo. “It’s terrifying and unpleasant and, well, it makes me wonder. Is this the place I want to stay? Like forever?”
Leo, stricken, his eyes filling with tears. “You can’t go,” he says. “You just got here.”
This is not at all the response Franny expected. What did she expect? She could not have said.
“Would you come with me, if I left?” She did not plan to ask this question, either, but there it is now, between them, creating a long pause, filled with silent complexity.
“Look,” David says to the group, pointing their attention north of the plume of smoke.
It is breathtaking, without a doubt, the colors of the sunset: russet, almost blood red streaks making the sky itself look as if it is aflame.
Beauty and destruction, sadness and joy, soft and rocky terrain: one is never too far from the other. All are within the span of our touch, waiting for our decision: where we will place our attention, where we will aim the power of our imagination.
Leo still has not answered Franny’s question, but he does slip his arm around her, softly.