The bottle-blonde with the braces tells us to take a seat in the circle. 

“I’d like to go around and have each of you introduce yourself and give us one fun fact about you,” Bottle-Blonde says. 

Did I die and go back sixty-five years to kindergarten?

“I’ll start,” she says. “My name is Hillary Hogshead and I’m thirty-one years old. I love…”

Hogshead. Poor girl.

When Hillary stops talking, she turns to the woman beside her. The woman is silent.

Across from her a redhead waves. “Mildred!” she shouts. “Mildred, it’s your turn!”

“What am I supposed to say?” Mildred asks, adjusting her wig.

“Your name, your age, and a fun fact,” Hillary says.

“My name is Mildred! Ninety-one! I love ducks!”

I’m truly in hell.

After Mildred, there’s Sarah, who’s eighty-two and loves badminton. Agatha is eighty-five and loves Antonio Banderas movies and once met him in Los Angeles. There’s a woman with a pink flower in her hair who says she owned a horse farm. Two more. I tune them out. It’s barely been five minutes of this fucking class and I already want to jump off the roof. Which would be convenient, since the hospital is only a block away.

“Hello!” Mildred shouts. “Hello!”

They’re all looking at me.

“I’m Eloise,” I say. “I’m seventy.” 

“A fun fact?” Hillary asks.

“I grew roses.” 

“I love roses, too,” Pink Flower says. Big surprise since she’s got a stupid flower in her hair. 

“OK, ladies, it’s time to pair up. Pick a partner and make your way to a yoga mat.”

Pink Flower smiles at me. Shit. Picking a partner is my cue to exit, which I do. Quickly.

After class my phone rings.

“Have you unpacked yet?” Dahlia asks. Her voice is low, which means the baby is sleeping. Which hopefully means the conversation will be a short one. 

“Yes,” I tell her. I can’t walk through the bedroom there are so many boxes. 

“I’m going to Facetime you so I can see,” she says.

I don’t know when Dahlia decided she was the parent, but it’s not working for me. 

The phone sings. I hit Accept, but then I return the phone to my ear.

“Move your head away, Mom,” Dahlia says. “I’m staring into your eardrum.”

“What?” I yell.

“Ssshhh. Joel is sleeping. Mom, press the camera icon on the screen and flip the phone around so I can see the room.”

“What?” I yell again.

“Dammit, Mom. Stop jerking me around.” 

We’re both quiet. 

“At least tell me you took one class,” she says.

“I did. Movement Studio. We raised our arms and legs for fifteen minutes and then closed our eyes for another thirty. It was very strenuous.”

“Maybe you’ll finally make a friend. That’s my one wish for you.”

Dahlia had started saying this nonsense in the last few years, ever since she started going to therapy. She claimed one of her dreams in life was for me and Charles to have dinner parties with other couples. I’d told her not to waste her time on such a ridiculous dream, that Charles and I were happy with it just being us. Which was mostly true. Besides, I’d spent so many years without a friend, I don’t want a stranger prying into my life now.

“I want to see your place tomorrow,” Dahlia says.

I won’t charge my phone tonight.

“Okay,” I tell her.

“Okay,” she says.

I’m in the corner of the dining hall, nursing a tomato juice. The woman with the pink flower in her hair waves at me from her table and I look down at my scrambled eggs. Shit. I thought by coming to breakfast early I’d never have to risk sitting with another person. Florida Fantasy Independent Living is full of women and none of them seem independent. They cluster in groups, cackling. It feels like high school and I’m on the periphery again, which, unlike in my teenaged years, is fine with me now.

Pink Flower comes over and sets her plate down, which is piled high with bacon and sausage and French toast. A heart attack pile. Maybe she’ll keel over and I won’t have to talk to her.

“Hi Eloise,” she says. “I think you’re in the same building as me. Dolphin Cove?”

I nod. Maybe if I keep my lips zipped, she’ll take the hint.

“You haven’t been here long, have you?”

“I moved in last week,” I say. 

“I’ve just hit the four-month mark and I love it,” she says. “I’ll never have to cook another meal. Are you living here alone or with your husband?”

“Alone,” I tell her.

“Me too,” she says. “Were you married?”

I nod.

“What happened?” she asks.

“The virus got him.”

She stares down at her plate. No one wants to be reminded of that terrible time. 

“Cancer got Mack,” she says. “Anal.”

It’s barely light out and she’s already said anal. 

I’ve got a migraine coming on,” I tell her, hoping she’ll never bark up my tree again. But she’s still smiling.

“You’re in apartment fifty-three, right?” 

Is she stalking me?

I nod without thinking. 

“I’ll stop by later,” she says. “I made caramel brownies last night.”

“I don’t eat chocolate.”

“You will after you taste one of my brownies.”

Pink Flower waves at me. I don’t wave back. 

There’s a knock at my door. I’d spent the better part of the last hour watching a very old couple on the golf course make out in the back of their cart, so it takes two more knocks to get me moving. 

“Hello!” a voice calls. “Sugar delivery!”

I open the door. Pink Flower is holding a plate.

“Can I come in, Eloise?” 

“It’s not a good time,” I tell her.

“Come on. I’m bored out of my gourd.”

I don’t want her in my apartment. But how to get rid of her?

“Why don’t we go to your place?” 

“Wonderful plan,” she says. “You can meet Hattie. She’s my poodle. My best friend. You’ll love her.”

Probably not. I’m allergic to most dogs.  

As we walk, I notice the walls in the hall for the first time. They are covered in posters of elderly people playing golf and swimming in the pool and sharing glasses of wine. All smiles. I feel guilty for being miserable in a place where I’m expected to “Love Life Here!” as one of the posters instructs.

Pink Flower opens the door to her apartment and I’m immediately hit with the smell of brownies. My mouth starts to water. Chocolate anything is my favorite dessert. But I’ll pretend otherwise.

She leads me to the living room, where a nearly dead animal that I sort of recognize as a dog raises its head and then puts it down. 

“I’ll leave you with Hattie,” she says.

When she leaves, I inspect her bookshelves. They’re empty. In fact, except for the dog and the furniture, there’s nothing. I’m glad I didn’t invite her in. My apartment is a disaster.

I take a seat on the sofa. Pink Flower returns with a tray. Plastic carafe and pitcher of cream. Two mugs. A box of Sugar in the Raw. She sets everything on the table and asks how I want my coffee.

“Cream and one sugar,” I tell her.

I tear up. This happens to me sometimes now. I used to be the kind of person who could say, “I haven’t cried in ten years,” but now I break down whenever a stranger offers to help me. Once, in line at Publix, I had to leave all my groceries and run out because I lost it when the mentally disabled boy asked me if I wanted paper or plastic. Since Charles died, nothing makes sense.  

I cough.

“You okay?” she asks. 

“The dog,” I say. “I’m allergic.”

“I can put her in the other room.” She nudges the corpse. Then it farts.

We both start laughing. A surprise. It feels good.

“Better not move her,” I say. 

“We don’t want to risk her doing that again,” Pink Flower says.

I sip my coffee. Pink Flower sips hers.

Now what? What do women talk about when they’re alone together? When Dahlia was a teenager, she spent hours with groups of girls in our pool. I never understood it. I was her flesh and blood and we never had anything to talk about. 

“You’re on the younger side like me,” Pink Flower says. “You could still be living in your house. Why’d you move here?”

Because of my fucking daughter. “This house is too much upkeep for one person,” Dahlia had said after her father’s funeral. I’d argued with her, but then I started feeling like the walls were closing in on me. And I saw Charles everywhere: frothing his milk at the cappuccino maker, doing his fifty push-ups on the floor of the gym. So, when Dahlia drove me to Florida Fantasy, I gave in. Charles had always been the one to make decisions about money, anyway. I didn’t know if I could trust myself to make the right choice for my future.

“I wanted a change,” I tell Pink Flower.

“You’ve done interesting things, intriguing things,” she says. “I can tell.”

No, I haven’t. I take a bite of the brownie. It’s delicious. I take another bite.

“Tell me about one of the interesting things you’ve done,” she says.

“There’s nothing,” I tell her. “I was a housewife. For fifty-one years.”

“There’s more to your story,” she says.

I clutch my temples.

“Migraine,” I say. “Chocolate does it every time.” 

I walk away. Maybe this time I’ve gotten rid of her for good. 

“Do you have any other clothes?” Pink Flower asks. I’m on the patio enjoying my orange-flavored sweet tea and the birdsong. It’s been three days since she last bothered me. I figured my head had done the trick.

“What?” I ask, not believing she would ask such a rude question.

“I mean, I’ve only ever seen you in that pair of black pants and blue shirt.” 

I can’t tell her I’m wearing these clothes because all of my other clothes are packed away in boxes that I haven’t opened.

“Do you always wear that pink flower in your hair?” 

“Since Mack died, yes,” she says. “Eloise, tell me one thing about yourself.”

When my husband was dying, they wouldn’t let me in the room and I didn’t care. The words are almost out of my lips before I can stop them. It’s like this strange woman has cast a spell on me. 

There’s a picture of pie on the wall opposite us.

“I can make a delicious blueberry pie,” I say.

“Oh, that’s my favorite. Will you make me one?”

I touch my forehead. “My head again.”

“Your poor head…if I didn’t know better, I’d think you didn’t like me,” she says.

“Then you’d be right.” The words come out meaner than I intended and Pink Flower’s ever-present perky smile disappears.

“Well, that was rude, Eloise.” She bites her lip. 

Is she going to cry? How do I, someone she barely knows, have the power to make her upset?

“I thought you were intriguing, but I guess wrong sometimes.”

She leaves.

I feel terrible.

Why did Pink Flower think I was intriguing? She doesn’t even know me.

When I was small, my mother told me I wasn’t the kind of girl that other girls liked because I was too brave and had a temper. “You’re not polite. You don’t listen. You’re more like a boy.” I didn’t try to make friends. I hunted with my brothers for our dinner and never learned to make a pie.  

I met Charles when I was nineteen. I was working at the gas station; he came in for a Coke. He was the son of a real estate developer in Florida who owned half of Jacksonville. He offered me a life where I’d never have to worry about how I’d scrounge up food again.

Charles and I made a little world in our big house. I filled it with fancy vases and he worked on polishing his Porsche to perfection. And I tried very hard to never think about who I’d been before our marriage. I’d buried the memory of that girl so long ago, and now I can feel her peeking out of her grave. And I know it has something to do with Pink Flower. 

I drink a Dr. Pepper. I watch the old couple in the golf cart go to third base. I even consider slicing open a box. I grab my keys. I haven’t been back to my house since I moved out. But now I have to. I want to know if they’ve already bulldozed the place to bits.

“Don’t go there ever,” Dahlia said before she left me at Florida Fantasy. “Promise me.”

Dahlia and I weren’t close, but she respected my love for the house she’d grown up in. She even considered buying it and using it as a vacation home, but her girlfriend talked her out of it.

It’s unseasonably warm for late October. The Petersons are walking their German shepherd. I wait for them to round the corner and then pull down my street. Coquina Street. I’d eyed the house for a year when it went on the market. Charles bought it for me for my thirty-second birthday. I’d grown up in a trailer and never imagined I’ve have a garage of my own.

My heart drops to my stomach when I see the lawn. Ripped up. My prized roses are gone, too. There’s a bulldozer in the front yard. A Port-a-Potty at the end of the driveway. I sit in my car for a few minutes, trying to absorb what I’m seeing.

I’m shocked to discover my key still works. I open the door slowly and find the chandelier is missing. There’s brown paper all over the floor. The wall between the kitchen and dining room is gone. Other walls have been torn open, electrical wires hang out of them. I get out of there as fast as I can.

I’m not sleeping. I’m thinking more about our house, how I’d loved it for so long. I filled it with beautiful vases I found online and at auctions, vases that had their own special cabinets. I had tiny lights installed above the shelves. Some nights I’d turn them on and shut off the ceiling lights. Then I’d walk through the rooms, admiring the gorgeous colors, feeling like I’d done something important by having such a fine collection. Charles would find me. He’d put his arms around me and tell me I’d made a perfect home for us. 

As soon as Dahlia began spending time with friends, she asked me: “Why don’t you and Dad have friends?” And I told her: “We only need each other.” I never told her about Amy, the woman who I sat beside at an auction, years before Dahlia was born. Amy was bidding on the same Newcomb vase as me and I bid higher. On my way to my car, she walked up to me.

“I’ve got a whole closet full of Newcomb,” she said. “Want to see?”

It turned out she had more than Newcomb. She had Zolsnay. Murano. In cabinets and on shelves. Her collection must have been worth hundreds of thousands. She was from Virginia, too, and had hiked the Appalachian Trail, too. When she learned that I’d got almost all the way, she called me brave. I remembered what my mother had said, how brave was bad.

Charles said he didn’t want strangers traipsing through our home. I invited Amy anyway. I even made tea. Charles stayed in the backyard. Amy saw him through the window and waved. He didn’t wave back. She asked me if he was okay. I was embarrassed.

When I asked Charles about how he’d acted, he touched my chin. “If you’re happy with me, Eloise, you don’t need anyone else.”

But I’d liked Amy. And she’d liked me. And it had felt good to laugh with her about the auctioneer with the dirty tie and the old woman with the purple wig who was our stiffest competition. 

But I didn’t want to upset Charles. There was always a part of me that worried one day he’d decide he didn’t want a woman with bad breeding and leave, so I didn’t say anything else to him about it. I bought more vases. And I never asked anyone over again.

“Jesus, Eloise, why are you knocking so early?”

Pink Flower doesn’t have her flower in her hair.

I take a deep breath.

“I once hiked the Appalachian Trail. Alone.” 

She squints. “Huh?”
“You asked me about the interesting things I did. And I was a hiker. A long time ago.”

“Come in,” she says. “I’ll put the coffee on.”

I take a seat next to the dead dog. When Pink Flower returns with the tray, the pink flower is in her hair again.

“The Appalachian Trail, huh?” She smiles. “That’s pretty brave. How old were you?”

“Tell me about the hike.” 

It’s like I’m a wine bottle that’s been uncorked. I spill all over Pink Flower’s beige carpet. About the night a bear almost got me. How I snared three rabbits in one day and how I got frostbite on my left big toe and had to cut the hike short. 

“You still do all that business?” she asks.

I shake my head. “I gave it up when I got married. Charles didn’t care for it.”

“Hmmm.” Pink Flower takes a sip of her coffee. “That’s a shame.” Pink Flower’s eyes are brown and warm. 

“My life feels like it’s over,” I say suddenly.

“I think a new chapter in your life is starting,” Pink Flower says.

I want to believe her. But I don’t.

One night Pink Flower knocks on my door at midnight and says she wants powdered miniature donuts and we drive in our pajamas to 7-Eleven . We buy a box and sit outside on a bench. We make up stories about the people that go in the store. We give them terminal illnesses, dead bodies in their backseats, and body odor. It’s the most fun I’ve had in years. 

When I was a teenager and living in Virginia, I loved to jump up from bed in the middle of the night and go swimming in the Cow Pasture River. 

I tell Pink Flower this and the next night she shows up again at midnight, wearing her swimsuit and a towel wrapped around her waist.

“Let’s go,” she says.

The pool closed at nine, so we have to hop the fence. Luckily, it’s only knee-high. Maybe the president of Florida Fantasy assumed one night there’d be a couple of old broads breaking in and they didn’t want a lawsuit on their hands. 

The moon is full and casts a beam of white light on the still water. Pink Flower takes the pink flower out of her hair. Then she dives in perfectly. I go in after her and float on my back. When I come back to standing, she’s standing, too.

“I was a synchronized swimmer when I was young,” she says, and then she disappears. A perfectly straight leg emerges from the water. It hurts my calves to imagine pointing my foot like that, but Pink Flower is agile. 

Watching her swim laps, I realize I don’t know anything about her. I don’t even know her name. Carol? Belinda? Ruby? 

A woman from the exercise class had sat with us one day at lunch, boring us with stories about her daughter’s love of medieval literature. Pink Flower had kicked me under the table and we’d shared a smile. That woman had said Pink Flower’s name—I’m sure of it. But I don’t remember what it is.

How can I ask Pink Flower for her name now? She’d hate me and I’d risk losing the one friend I’ve ever had. The one friend. Shit. Dahlia’d be thrilled.

“I think we should have a bonfire,” Pink Flower says when she stops swimming. “Burn some things we need to put behind us.”

A question. I can ask her one now.

“What will you burn?” I ask.

Even in the near dark, I can see Pink Flower frown.

“I don’t know,” she says. “What about you?”

“Come up to my apartment,” I say.

We drip water on the carpet. I turn up the heat.

She points to my sleeping bag on the sofa.

“Why are you sleeping out here?”

I open the door to my bedroom and flip the light switch. We peer in.

“Why haven’t you unpacked yet?” she asks.

“I thought it would make me too sad.” In those boxes are the vases I’d painstakingly searched for, all wrapped in layers and layers of bubble wrap. Those special things helped define me for most of my life. How could I get rid of them?

I throw off my towel and open a box. I find a Weller Sicard, one of my favorites. Iridescent in color. I remember holding it up to my chandelier and marveling at the purples and blues.

“Beautiful, right?” 

She shrugs. 

“I paid around fifteen hundred dollars for it.”

She doesn’t say anything, just unwraps another vase. And another.

“Why did you collect vases?” she asks, inspecting.

“Well, I don’t know,” I say, even though I do. At my wedding shower, Charles’s mother had told me, “Eloise, you should collect something as perfect as you.” She was forever making the comment that I’d never have to work for anything because girls as beautiful as I was didn’t have to. I never told her about where I’d come from. Thank God she never asked.

“Hmmm,” Pink Flower says. “You had a life that was very different from mine.” 

“How so?” 

Pink Flower looks around the bedroom.

“I only came here with five boxes.” 

She points to a box marked “Photo Albums.”

“Can I see some pictures?” 

Pink Flower remarks that I looked like a strong-willed baby. I don’t know how anyone can tell that from a photo, but she’s right. My mother always said I did my fair share of punching my little brother. Pink Flower admires the pet raccoon I had when I was nine. Even asks for his name. “Mr. Clean,” I tell her and she laughs. She calls Dahlia, who at twelve had a mouth full of braces and acne all over her cheeks, a lovely girl. I show her the picture of the first trout I caught and a rabbit I’d snared with my father. There are several of me standing with my brothers beside a bunch of cows. I’m in overalls. There’s dirt all over my arms.

“So, you didn’t always have money, huh?” she asks.

I shake my head.

“Me neither,” she says. “I grew up searching for quarters in my mother’s purse. She had a bit of a drinking problem.”

My father, too, I almost say. But I’m not ready to go into all of that yet. Someday maybe.

“I’d like to see pictures of you,” I say.

Pink Flower sets a shoebox in my lap. The old dog Hattie is between us. She lifts her head and yawns, revealing a heap of broken teeth. Outside a storm is coming to a head. A clap of thunder makes me and Pink Flower both sit straight up.

I open the box. It’s half empty. I pick up the one pile of photos. There were four horses. Misty and Chestnut and Big Win and Goliath. She’d raised them since they were foals and taught many a child to ride on their backs. She talks about horses like they’re her children and I quickly realize Pink Flower had none herself, which is strange for women from our generation.

“You were so beautiful,” I say. “I mean, you are so beautiful.” Shit. Leave it to my big mouth to say such a dumb thing.

“I was,” Pink Flower says. “Thank you.”

I reach the end of the pictures. Where’s her husband?

“What about Mack?” I remember his name because she told me he had anal cancer and I’d never forget a detail like that.

Pink Flower pets Hattie.

“I don’t have any pictures of him,” she says. 

“Why not?”

She leaves the room and comes back with more pictures in her hand. She gives them to me. Then she takes a deep breath.

Three pictures of a woman. Black eyes and a split lip. I’m staring, trying to make sense of them, when it dawns on me what I’m seeing. 

“Mack did it,” she says. “All the time.”

It’s so awful I have no idea what to say.

She takes another deep breath. “He almost killed me once.”

Lightning flashes across the room. Am I supposed to ask questions about Mack? Am I supposed to hug Pink Flower? Should I suggest we get doughnuts again? Whenever Dahlia got depressed in high school, I brought her a pot of lemon ginger tea and left her alone. The tea always seemed to work because Dahlia never said otherwise. Would Pink Flower like me to make her tea? 

I think hard about what I’ve seen on TV. When women are close friends, they drink pink cocktails together. They go shoe shopping. But Pink Flower and I have never done those things. We’ve snuck out in our pajamas at midnight and made fun of strangers. Were we really friends? Isn’t it better to say nothing than to say the wrong thing?

“I better go,” I say. “Migraine.”

She nods and I feel terrible. I know I messed up. There was something I was supposed to do and I didn’t do it. The next morning Pink Flower isn’t at breakfast. She’s not at lunch either. I go to Movement Studio that afternoon, hoping she’ll show up. When she walks in, I make eye contact with her. She looks down at her feet.

We’re bending over, stretching our lower backs, when I hear wailing. I’ve never heard another person sound like this before and I feel a rush of emotion come over me. Tears well in my eyes. Women move fast. Mildred hugs Pink Flower. Agatha rubs her head. Hillary Hogshead tells everyone to form a circle and hold hands. 

I join the circle. A woman on each side of me takes my hand. 

“I’d like us to pass the healing love around,” Hillary continues. “I’ll squeeze Moriah’s hand and then she’ll squeeze the woman’s hand beside her. So on, and so on.”

Women are strange. What was this ridiculous action supposed to do? When we’re finished, Hillary looks at Pink Flower.

“I hope you feel our love, Veronica,” Hillary says.

Veronica. Veronica is Pink Flower’s name.

Veronica stops sniffling. “Thank you,” she says. “I do.”

Really? This seems like the kind of thing Veronica would find ridiculous. I want to ask her about it, but she walks out with Agatha and Mildred, away from me.

Veronica has a new friend, a woman who wears blood red lipstick at all times. They sit in the dining hall and laugh. This makes me sad, so I start having my meals delivered to my room. 

“You sick, Ms. Barber?” the woman at the other end of the line asks one morning when I call to place my breakfast order. “Need me to send a nurse up there?”

Damn snoop.

“No,” I bark and hang up. 

But I am sick. Sick with regret for how I left Veronica that night she told me about Mack. But what could I have done differently? If I could go back to that night again, would I say?

The night before Thanksgiving, Dahlia’s flight is delayed because of a snowstorm. And then her flight gets canceled completely. She decides it’s better not to make the trip. I realize I’m going to be alone. And I wonder if Veronica is going to be alone, or if she’ll be sharing turkey with Red Lips. 

Dahlia texts me repeatedly, asking what I’m doing, who I’ll spend the holiday with.

I know she won’t leave me alone until she gets an answer, so I text her a picture of Veronica and me. We’d taken the photo one day by the pool. “We need a selfie,” Veronica had said and held the camera out in front of us. The sun is in our eyes. She’s laughing. I’m not. I didn’t understand why we needed a “selfie.”

I’m eating dinner with Veronica, I text.


I shut my phone off.

I make a blueberry pie. It takes me four hours, but somehow, when I finish, it looks like the picture. I leave the pie at Veronica’s door with a note: Dear Veronica, I still want us to have that bonfire. I’ve got some things to burn. 

A few hours later, I get a text: Meet me on the sand trap by my apartment at midnight.

I find Pink Flower with my flashlight. 

She’s wearing pajamas. So am I. 

“Hi,” I say.

“Hi,” she says.

I’ve been practicing my speech in my head for the last few hours. I’ll tell Veronica how we have bad husbands in common, that I lost a part of myself when I married Charles, and how I’m just getting it back, mostly because of her. 

But I’m terrified that will be the wrong thing to say, too, so I keep quiet.

There’s a stack of wood next to Veronica and she strikes a match over it, but no dice. 

“Here, let me do that,” I say. This is one thing I can do right. I get to work re-arranging the wood and soon we have a blaze.

She’s got a box next to her. I’ve got a paper grocery bag filled with my three most expensive vases.

“I’m sorry for the way I acted,” I blurt out. 

“I’ve never told anyone about Mack before,” she says. “I know it was a lot to hear.”


“I’m glad you told me,” I say slowly.


What I want to say isn’t much. 

“I care about you, Veronica,” I say, staring into the fire. “Even if sometimes I don’t show it.”

“Thank you,” Veronica says. “That means a lot, Eloise.”

Really? Those simple words? 

Veronica opens her box and pulls out clothes. She throws a pile in and sighs deeply.

“I saved his shit so I could do this one day,” she says. “God, it feels so good!”

I throw in the vases. I assumed I’d be sad to say goodbye to them, but I’m not. The flames hiss and crackle.

“Did Mack really die of anal cancer or were you just being mean?” I ask. 

“He did.”

She laughs, then so do I. 

I hear a shout and suddenly there’s a beam of light aimed at us. 

“Oh shit,” I say. “What should we do?” 

“Duh,” Veronica says and takes off running. I follow her.

We scurry behind a shrub and hunch down. My hips ache.

She elbows me and I turn to her. We’re both giggling, breathing hard. My heart pounds.

“Hello?” the voice says.

I pop up. “If you’re going to arrest anyone, arrest me.”

Veronica pops up. “No, arrest me!” 

“Arrest us together,” I say.

The security guard rolls his eyes. 

“I’m going to have to fine you both,” he says. “We can’t have fires on the golf course. Give me your names.”

“I’m Eloise and this is Veronica. But, really, do we have to make a big deal out of this?”
He stares at us. One, then the other.

“Go to bed, ladies,” he sighs.

I ignore my hip when we take off again. 

There’s a patch of woods in North Georgia, a popular hunting ground—I’d passed by it on my way to an auction once. I’d pictured taking the exit, driving deep into the woods. Sleeping under the stars. Roasting rib-eyes over an open flame. I wonder if Veronica will go with me. I’d need to buy a rifle. I don’t know if I’m a good shot anymore, but if I am, maybe we could have rabbit stew for Christmas. 

About the Author:

Jennifer Dickinson is a graduate of Hollins University. Her short fiction has appeared in The Florida Review, Maudlin House, Blackbird, and others. The recipient of a Hedgebrook residency and a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Foundation, she works as a writing teacher and book coach in Los Angeles.

Feature image by AnnaliseArt / Pixabay