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“Well, there’s no student scene,” says Rose. “First step in urban renewal. You need kids with free time, no money and a strong social network.”

“Reading your textbooks again?” asks Holly, scanning the grass. A moment later, she stoops, coming up with a four-leaf clover.

“No, my Hipster Handbook.”

“That’s worse.” Holly hands the sprig to Rose, who tries to slip it into her buttonhole and is vaguely surprised to find it occupied by another one.

“Hipsters decry gentrification,” she murmurs, “while simultaneously causing it.”

“You’re a born anthropologist,” says Holly, and picks her seventh four-leaf to place in Rose’s hair.


No shower for a while, and she’s starting to feel it–when she runs a hand through her hair it won’t come down until she smoothes it. Sometimes that’s hours. Probably shouldn’t have cut it myself, thinks Holly, or so short.

Every morning she makes herself look at the picture (at least she still gets up). It’s a Polaroid of the three of them, in the park, last August; somebody held it wrong while it developed, and there’s one pale splotch of sky stained white. In the middle, a blurred Frisbee is baby-new pink: the color of skin under a scab.


The street’s washed out with dead snow, sick and tired of asphalt, salted and dirtied into sullen drifts. They clump down the melting sidewalk with hats on and coats flapping open. All three of them steam like dragons.

“You have no argument!” snaps Diane.

“And you see everything in black and white,” says Rose, affecting Zen.

“That’s still not an argument. Anyway, shades of gray aren’t any better.”

“I know, Diane. That’s why I try to see things in full color.”

“Rose,” says Diane, “that doesn’t even mean anything.”

“You’re both cigarettes,” mutters Holly, and kicks an offending chunk of ice.


He’s thought about her naked before. Hasn’t he? Surely, all the fantasizing, the watching–he must have. But if he did, then how did he imagine she’d look?

He’s on the roof, alienated as usual. Below him, they’re all piling into the pool: drunk, high, naked. It’s very late but still warm. “Skinny dipping”–that makes him think of being seven, his cousins and the pond at the farm. For some reason it’s seemed an innocent term until now.

Holly’s naked, her face flushed with wine. A thousand hours she’s lived in his head: can he really have had no expectations?


“Die-off” is what the radio stations have begun calling it, and downstairs the anchor sounds tinny and nervous–three meteorologists in two weeks can’t explain the heat.

Holly’s hand stings under the bandage she tore from a shirt; her sweat is gone as soon as it’s there, but the salt sticks around. Glass crunches under her flip-flops on the rotten little deck.

She’s finally sobbing. It doesn’t feel good. “I’m sorry!” she cries to nobody. “I hate you, I hate him, I’m sorry!”

She’ll have to fix the glass door, use duct tape or something. All the AC will get out.


The storm is big and round, restless, its undersides tinged with green. It’s implacable, and its movement is invisible but obvious, as downtown gets rapidly darker. Holly, four, is pounding her soft fists on anything available. Her mouth is red and angry; she’s mad and stubborn, and the madder she gets the harder she makes her face, beet-clenched under a wispy brown bob.

The storm is ready to bite. In the gnash of its thunder there’s a sharp clean white edge, the same fluorescent that stains its belly. Its teeth are ready, yet Holly is hungry, and the storm is full.