Avery Freckle chewed her thumb before crossing the street to meet her uncles. It tasted like blood and rain began to scratch at the window before they finished talking. Yes, her father was dead but none of them felt very sad about it. Michael was the one who had pulled that trigger himself, so it didn’t much involve her. Anyway, it had already been six years since they last talked like a family or real people.
Later in her apartment, Avery fed the cat and stayed around for another hour with nothing in her mind, keeping busy. At 7:30 she took a coat downstairs to stand in the grass and twenty minutes later Mabel showed up with her greyblue truck. The bowling alley was mostly empty and the attendant didn’t make them trade shoes. It was losing money anyway and they bought dinner too.
Mabel stopped outside to call her sister and they argued about money for a minute and the truck while Avery stepped away to look at the sky. The air was very wet and she started to remember Michael from before the strange days.
“Hey, Mabel… Could you…? Yeah, uh. Want to go back to my apartment once you’re done with that?”
Mabel nodded and they watched the end of the hockey game before having sex. She left after another hour because Joanna needed the truck in the morning. Avery watered her flowers in the window and fell asleep listening to her cat eat. Michael drove his van down a steep hill fifteen years ago but his face looked more recent.
The waves were too big and there was a big dog standing by the water. Michael started turning left toward a cliff overlooking the water but they never reached the edge, only spiraled toward the setting sun and somebody laughed.
After work Avery met her uncles again for lunch. One of them had been crying and began to again once she mentioned the dream. They split the bill after 45 minutes and Avery walked a dozen blocks to the park where she met Mabel and Joanna. It was a quiet afternoon with empty streets. The nearest ocean was 200 miles away and colder than Michael had ever felt.
Joanna wandered off with someone named Eric and returned a little later. She told a joke they hadn’t heard before but Mabel didn’t like it very much. A firetruck drove by and they left soon after that. It was starting to get dark.
Avery’s neighbors were playing music while she said goodbye and that made it difficult to sit alone afterward, especially once it was quiet. She fell asleep after an hour or so and woke up once to the sound of a broken glass in the street. She didn’t have any dreams that night but awoke feeling very lonely. She called Mabel and they talked for a few minutes before work.