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Category Archives: Holly

Holly gave it up before she knew what it was.


“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.


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.


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.


“I’m having flashbacks.”

“Sorry. Just a second–”


“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?”


“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.”


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.


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.


Desert towns aren’t designed around good drainage: when it rains, it floods. But it’s not supposed to flood like this. Holly leaves Roger at his house and he leaves her his truck; she drives west, toward the dance.

The gym’s on low ground and the water’s already topping the first floor. The truck stalls before she can get across the lot. There are students reaching out the upstairs windows, and–no–the stucco wall is slumping–

Holly’s driving barefoot. She gathers her ruined skirt and rolls down the window. She runs out onto the water, and reaches, and then she doubts.


Holly and Roger graduate, along with twenty-two other students who weren’t at the dance. There’s news. People are vomiting money at her so she says yes to some school which, she understands, is on high ground, with trees.

She and Roger don’t speak again. She buries his corsage under the tree with her fifth-grade time capsule and plants yellow flowers on top. She sells things and packs light. She gets on a plane. At her first party she meets a girl with Rowan’s eyes: her name is Rose.

In her pockets, in her dreams, in secret, the desert waits.


The way Roger finds Holly is entirely prosaic: he googles to her barebones student profile. He gives two weeks’ notice at his old job, finds a new one, moves, and doesn’t know what to do next.

Holly finds him, in the end, when their eyes meet across the coffee shop in the Borders just off campus. This is no accident either. She thought she saw him there, in Architecture, and staked the place out five nights straight.

Rose shakes hands with reservations. “How,” she asks, “do you two know each other?”

“Remember, Roger?” asks Holly.

“You saved my life,” they say.