She knocked on his door again, standing on the step beside the roof. The afternoon sun, strong and hot, hit her back. The stairway to Jude’s second floor room was outside the house, hanging beside the picture window of the living room. When he went up to his room at night, he sometimes hooked an elbow over a step and leaned in front of the window so he looked like a ghost with pale face pressed against the glass. She always laughed and went to knock on the window just where his face was.
Jude had been invisible these past few days. She could never find him to talk to. They usually told each other things they didn’t tell their parents, but she hadn’t had a chance to tell him about Victoria, the colonel’s new horse, and she wasn’t sure she should tell him about Rob.
She opened the door and went in. Jude was fierce about his privacy, so she only entered when he invited her. His room was surprisingly neat. The bed on the floor had a blue spread tucked tight under it and stacks of books lay on their sides around the head of the bed like a small fort, their titles visible. A desk lamp curved toward the pillow. A desk piled with papers, a drawing table, a desk chair and a reading chair. The windows looked across the plain toward Albuquerque and light flooded the room. It had been the studio of the artist who rented the house to them.
On the desk, curls of smoke rose from a small blue pot, and she smelled the sharp, familiar smell of pinyon that usually came out of fireplaces. Someone had been burning incense in the room. She had been looking for Jude all day and he hadn’t been anywhere. So who was just here, burning incense in her brother’s room? She turned and ran down the steps. The door banged.