In her cream-coloured entry hall, above a red table adorned with a thicket of dried flowers, hung one of Brandy's paintings. A wild, windswept moorland, heather purple-grey hugging the ground and huddled against a twisted tree. The tree's branches pointed east with gnarled fingers, the clouds above them high, thin and torn. Huddled beneath the tree, her fox-thin face a mirror of the pale sky was a girl clad only in a brown, shapeless dress. Her thin, dirt-smeared legs were drawn up to her chin.
Brandy had painted her without eyes, calling the piece Desolation. Catherine thought it haunting and beautiful, but disagreed with her friend's choice of names. Even in such stark wildernesses could be found a rough, stubborn beauty. An angular beauty, hard and shaped by unforgiving elements but more lovely for its refusal to surrender. In the unlikely places of the land--in its corners and creases--lay the pale, luminous beauties forgotten by the world, but there for those who cared to see.