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The Explicit

Jane shares a coffee with Lucien. Lucien taught the best English class Jake ever took, and Jake used to draw with colored pencils with his father. Jake’s father works in purchasing at the prison where Schultz is serving six years.

Schultz sexually abused Rhiannon when she was eight. Rhiannon shares a cheap basement apartment with Ruth. Ruth sometimes sleeps with Topaz. Topaz never got back the ten dollars she lent Theo, who picked a fight after school one day with Corey, and as we speak Corey is standing alone on a stage, telling a story to

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Eleven years and here she is on his porch. He remembers this: she’d never call, just show up and wait.

“Hi,” he says.

“Hi,” she says.

“I’m still not going to be what you want,” he says. It hurts, but feels right.

Smiling lopsided, she tucks hair over an ear. She looks older, but not much. “What I want right now is coffee.”

Lucien takes a long breath, unhooks his coat from the wall, and suddenly it’s that easy. He locks the door behind them and they walk, close but not touching, two battered hearts making an old and comfortable mistake.