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The song Maisie was listening to was quiet, almost hymn like. She sat on a tall, grassy hill that overlooked the subdivision where she’d grown up, as the sun fell away in fading colors, lurid and angry reds to defeated crimson, to the ambient glow of twilight.

Maisie, with her earbuds in, as always trying to soothe herself, watched the daylight fade. Summer was still here, but there was more of it behind than ahead, and winter would be here soon enough. She saw children making their way home, and men and women coming home from their days at work, and excitable dogs doing circles around their owners legs, overjoyed. She somehow found a grace and beauty in the scenes very ordinariness.

Maisie was in a clear mind, which was becoming rare, again. The meds weren’t working like they had been, paranoia and anger were eating her alive, and the joy of what few things she still had for herself, music and her friends, was becoming dull and empty. Maybe adjusting the dosage would help, maybe not. Truth be told, she resented the meds, even if they had given her her life back after her dark and anguished teenage years. She resented have to take medicine to just be human.

Maisie had come to see her parents tonight, her dad picking her up from her apartment in East Maryville, to the rural subdivision where they lived. Dad had been excited to see her, but as always had fallen silent quickly, again going into whatever world he always seemed to live in. At social gatherings and parties he was a laugh a minute jokester, everyone’s best friend. Around his own family, he was distant, no need for the mask then.

Maisie and her mom and dad ate a nice meal. Maisie’s mom had made her favorite past casserole, and it was easier to talk with her mother. After the hell of her teenage years they’d grown close again, like when Maisie was growing up. But she knew there where things there was no point in talking about with her. She never wanted to deal with anything unpleasant, never wanted to hear that Maisie was struggling or had doubts. Anytime Maisie tried to tell her mother these things, Maisie was shouted down and all her fears were hand waved away, as if they could that easily be banished.

After dinner, Maisie had grabbed her phone and earbuds, and went to the big hill at the back of the subdivision. Maisie had watched the stars from their growing up, when this end of the county was less built up, and there was less light pollution to drown them out. She’d come here to brood, to cry, or to just be alone. A Walkman in the old days had brought the soothing voices and sounds to her troubled soul, but nothing else in all these years had really changed.

Maisie listened to that hymn like song. It was sung by a man. Maisie wasn’t often touched by music sung by men. They always seemed swaggering and aggressive, no matter the genre. They could be emotive and moving, but rarely touched her soul the way a woman’s voice could. But this one, the singer seemed without ego and pride, simply singing the sweet things he felt in his soul to her. A quiet hymn in the fading twilight. It wasn’t a religious song, but it was tender and devoted, and that was as close to being touched by God as anyone ever got in this world.

The subdivision, the simple scenes there, the beatific music, and the love she felt for her parents even as it seemed impossible to reach them, this was the peace that kept her hanging on as she felt herself slipping away, all the good things tarnished, all the stars crowded out with facile light.

It was the only thing she could still find, sometimes.

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