Martha was perched at the upstairs study window, which offered a wide granite sill and several flowering cacti. Beautiful from a distance, stolid and prickly as all hell, she liked to think that she and they had something in common. She wondered that they might somehow retain a deep, damp, glorious interior, lost within leathery flesh and beholden to nothing outside. Maybe in midst of drought, they might sample the sweet swill of water on the wind; perhaps they could smell the madding morning squall, coming on like summer sex, anticipating every droplet and thunderclap. To drink deeply from the dry Earth and the Santa Ana; to sense and shudder and rejoice in the bliss of a passing oasis—this was hope, and yearning, and life itself. Mostly, though, it was all just hoary dry dirt; bleak and blank and utterly unforgiving; surface cracks and prickly pears and hot rocks underneath. Hell, yes, they had plenty in common.