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Holly

They gave her a towel, but her hair is still stiff, her face tight. Crackly.

“Shouldn’t you be fucking Rose?” she says when Roger opens the door.

Concern in his big brown eyes–she shoves past him, pulls off her shirt. “Want to fuck this instead?” she asks. “I won’t even watch.”

“Holly, I’m going to call someone–”

“God dammit!” she screams. “Why won’t you judge me!”

“Never learned how,” he says, and leaves.

Holly puts her open hand through a pane in the glass door, then wraps it in a towel. Her hair is so matted. She grabs the scissors.

Holly

Someone’s replaced her hospital bandage with a new one, softer, handmade. Eventually the same person tries to remove it; Holly always pulls away. She realizes slowly that she’s not in the hospital, but she’s not curious. She eats and sleeps and bathes one-handed.

“I’m afraid it changed the lines on my palm,” she says after a week of silence. “I broke some glass. I’m afraid there will be scars, and…” She clears her throat.

“You should have someone read it for you,” says Maya. “I know a g–lady. She’s really good.”

Holly hears rain on the window. She nods.

Holly

“Please, sit down,” croons Madam Zaganza, Personal Readings.

Holly stands. Her hand’s still bandaged. “My friend Rowan,” she says, “she did this.”

“Good! Then you know to shuffle–”

“I caused the drought,” Holly blurts. “I killed all those people.”

“Oh, honey,” says Zaganza. She pulls off the turban and becomes a tired man in lipstick. “Sit down. You know how many people have told me that?”

“I’m different,” Holly whispers. “I was–Rose and Roger–and the rain doesn’t fall–”

“It falls on the just and the unjust.” Zaganza smiles sadly. “You don’t change the weather, honey. The weather changes you.”

Holly

“I’m having flashbacks.”

“Sorry. Just a second–”

Pause.

“I’m having ninth grade flashbacks.”

“Late bloomer?”

“Not as late as you, apparently–”

“Shut up.”

“I know you don’t really need it, but you’ve worn one of these before. Right? Ever?”

“Shut up, Rose!”

“You’re wearing one now.

“Shut up! It’s backwards to me, I have trouble–”

“It’s not backwards.”

“Yes it is.”

“Not to you.”

“Yes, because–”

“Imagine like you’re putting it on around your tummy, okay? Before you turn it around and hook the straps over your shoulders.”

“Is that how you do it?”

“Is that not how you do it?”

Holly

Holly drove his truck in heels, but now she’s barefoot, red dust on her hose and the hem of her dress.

“So many things in the way,” she says, absently. “I can’t. Roger, there’s something I’m supposed to–” She stops and tangles her hair through her fingers, undoing someone’s careful hour.

“Rowan would know,” she mumbles.

Roger pitches a rock out and away. Holly looks back, startled, then grabs her own rock. They throw again, and keep throwing, wild, off-balance, a stone rain on the desert. Finally they stumble and fall, gasping, and she rolls over and kisses his mouth.

Holly

Each of the layered bronze discs has a circle cut out of its lower quadrant, and as they rotate past each other–once every hour–they create an eclipse in miniature. Beneath the bronze, Rowan’s watch is black, hinting at orange. The band is red faux crocodile.

Holly can’t take her eyes off it. There’s something obscene about the fact that it is still ticking.

She picked wildflowers from the park, after hopping the fence, but now she wishes she hadn’t. They look stupid next to the big proper bouquets: roses, chrysanthema and stargazer lilies. They’re all white. Holly’s are yellow.

Rowan

“Oh,” says a breathless Holly, smoothing the skirt. Rowan grins, but when Holly turns back from the mirrors her face is older than her fourteen years.

“You give me the nicest dreams,” she says heavily. “But I can’t afford it.”

“Ms. Rowan’s Fund For Underdressed Young Ladies–” Rowan begins.

“No!” Holly scowls. “You are not allowed to–”

“I am.”

“I won’t wear it!”

The dress has turned a creature of elbows and knees into somebody who’d ride a pumpkin carriage. Rowan doesn’t know which is more beautiful, but she knows why Holly’s afraid. She doesn’t know what to say.

Holly

“Study party? Please.” Holly hooks her fingers in Rose’s belt loops and tugs. “Anyway, I hate my hair in the rain.”

“If we skip–”

“She’ll be fine. Come on.” She gets Rose back on the couch, then slithers behind her. “Let’s stay in, get pizza, I’ll rub your shoulders…”

“Mmm,” sighs Rose, “rub out my GPA,” but she doesn’t get up.

Holly doesn’t care about the session, or her hair, but life with Rose is new; she doesn’t want things to get weird. And they would, because the rain doesn’t fall on Holly. Ever. Even if she wants it to.

Holly

Holly plops down and idly traces something in the hot black gravel with one finger. She’s almost sixteen and her calves are bare, the hems of her ragged pants bound with purple tape. Roger’s still not entirely sure how they got up on the roof of the athletic building, but he’s in love with her calves; he stares, and fumbles a rolling paper.

Later, high, Roger laughs to see the ants three stories up. Because they’re black on black, though, he doesn’t notice their long complicated line. It’s like they’re following a sweet trail of spilled Kool-Aid: long cursive loops, H-O-L-L-Y.

Jake

Jake’s aware that people have died this summer, but it’s not made fact to him until he finds her, a block from his apartment.

His first thought is Don’t Move The Victim but it’s boiling out and he carries her inside. Her skin is dry and hot; her hair has been cut recently, too short. A silver bracelet gives her name as Holly.

Somehow he ends up riding in the ambulance. She wakes as they start to wheel her out. She’s holding a dirty black lump in one hand. She touches his lips, and the taste is sticky, gritty, impossibly sweet.

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