The Vintner’s Luck
Xas was whiteskinned, smooth. Even his mouth was pale, more blurred than coloured, like a wine stain wiped on the mouth of a statue. But Xas was no statue. Sobran could see his blood moving, a vein in the angel's neck that pulsed, and with each pulse variations of brightness in his skin, like cloud shadows passing across a wheat field, each pass of light a surprise. Where his skin was worked, the calluses on his hands, it was the same fleshy rose as the nipples of a darkhaired girl who has never suckled a child.
Every day time stopped and Sobran saw Xas, the sun reflecting off his raised wings, white chest watermarked by tears dried in fine dust; bare skin and colourless nipples, as innocent as a child's; the double signature, seagreen and vermilion, awake and vivid; a whitelipped white face and eyes, abysmal, inimical, like the sea seen through holes in an icefield. It was like being in love, this remembering, because Sobran couldn't put Xas out of his mind. And it was like shame. Because he grew so tired defending himself from the pain of this one recollection, Sobran forgot everything else he knew about the angel.