by Kaye Jeffreys -
Sanja had never been inside one of their metal machines before. The angular thing bounced across the rugged hills like a wounded beetle. The jerking made it hard for Sanja to pretend that she was an unfeeling stone. She had wanted to disappear like a vapor, but that was impossible. So she settled on becoming stone.
"Rose, pay attention to your driving," their father sat on the middle bench next to Sanja. "You are going to run us into a crevice."
"I'm too angry to drive." The daughter's boldness would be unacceptable among Sanja's people.
The father gripped the seat in front of him. "Reece, take over for her before she kills us."
The brother and sister traded places while the machine bucked and rolled on.
Rose glowered at Sanja as she dropped into the bench in front of her. "She lied about Reece so she could get out of arranged marriage." The daughter waved her hand in big movements at Sanja.
Sanja refused to feel indignent or angry. She was rock, a stone, unfeeling.
The father crossed his arms and looked down. "We don't know anything about anything yet."
"Dad, do I have to marry her?" Reece looked back at the father.
"No," their father said. "We are not bound by their laws. We follow our own."
"But what about Senjab?" Rose continued to stared back at Sanja as if she could see through Sanja's veil and break through the rock defenses.
"All I promised him was that she could come live with us." Their father looked at Sanja. "And I will keep my promise. Sanja is welcome among us for as long as she needs."
The vehicle jerked sideways suddenly. It tipped and hovered at an angle in the wind a few moments as though deciding if it would fall on its side. Then it landed hard, right side up.
Father, son, and daughter looked at one another. Then Rose spoke. "See. It's not just me. The wind is too much."
"Reece, batten down. This should blow over soon."
Reece moved his hand over the machine’s devices. Small explosions sounded at the four corners around them.
The wind rocked the vehicle.
After a short silence the father said. "Rose, you will have to share your cubicle with Sanja."
"I will not! She might kill me in my sleep!"
"I'll let her sleep in mine." Reece stood up and walked back to sit next to Rose. "I'll take the central area like I did when that Bible stayed with us. Zaibry can go stay with Brett and help with the kids."
"Thank you, Reece. Is this okay with you, Rose?"
"Whatever." Rose flopped backward in her seat so that Sanja couldn't see her anymore. It was a relief to be away from those seething eyes.
"Is this okay with you, Sanja?"
Sanja could not believe the father asked her. Nor could she guess why it mattered to him what she thought.
Unmovable stone slowly gave way. Sanja nodded once.