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Chicago

“Napa,” Grand admits, embarrassed. “On vacation, at a wine tasting. Is it less trite if they were married to other people at the time?”

“Scandal!” says Chicago, delighted. “Am I really allowed to know that?”

“That’s off the record!”

“Yeah, fine,” she grumbles. “Anyway, mine met when… he was stationed in Germany during Gulf War One. No idea why. They went out dancing and he came back two years later to take her home.”

“My parents had the Death Talk with me after she–um,” mutters Grand.

“Killed herself?” says Chicago lightly. “They should have given you the Drama Talk instead.”

Chicago

And here, at the heart of the whole thing (maybe below the heart; maybe the colon) there’s a dusty little black webcam trained on a picture of her.

Chicago realizes her mouth is actually hanging open. It’s too much. A recent picture, too; she only got that haircut last month, but then why is it yellowed and curling? She’s never worn that shirt–

Not her. Her mother. She reaches for it.

Later, skating like mad away from the machine’s defenses, she thinks about Jamaica. Grand’s family has a house there, right? Maybe she could borrow it, go sip mimosas and tan.

Chicago

Chicago shows up at Grand’s, triumphant, smelling like rye.

“Nobody takes precautions,” she enunciates, lying back with her feet in the pool. “Nobody changes the factory password. Nobody locks both drawers in a desk.”

“Nobody expects a fifteen-year-old to be snapping pictures,” says Grand, amused, “through the glory hole in the storage closet.”

“Will now.” Chicago shrugs, wiggling her shoulders against the warm concrete. “Tooo laaate.”

“Tell me which of your victims is which someday,” says Grand, lighting a roach in its clip. He inhales, then proffers it.

“No way,” says Chicago, standing, swaying. “That shit’s bad for you.”

Chicago

“Do you exist?”

“Of course.”

“How do you know?”

“Cogito, ergo–”

“Not good enough.” Chicago shakes her head. “I don’t believe that anymore, there’s nothing to it. It’s turtles all the way down.”

“Have you got something better?”

“I don’t have to offer anything,” she says, “strictly.”

Grand nods. “Just getting your kicks in at dead white guys, then. Real productive.”

“No.” She goes to the railing and leans over. “I am because I demand to be.”

He picks up the soccer ball and spins it. “Makes you want to spit, right?”

“I bet I can hit that guy,” she says.

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