Frances enters the kitchen at 1:00AM. She wears a lavender, polyester tank, and she is glowing. Her mouth is shining the color of a firetruck in the rain, and her teeth, when she opens her mouth to yawn are gummy with the remnants of potato chips and cheap beer.
“Still up” she says. It is as though her intoxication has robbed the cymbals of her voice the privilege of proper punctuation.
“Yeah,” I call from the other room.
She throws open the fridge momentarily, but walks away from it, into the living room. I'm in the corner chaise with a cup of cinnamon milk.
“Is that the one with the phonies?” she asks.
“The one with the Reece’s bar?”
I put down the milk. It is now lukewarm. “Recee’s bar? What are you—”
“Heath bar,” she corrects. “Heath bar. The one with—”
“Heathcliff?” I say.
“And the moors.”
She sits on the leather couch, hand clutched around her iPhone. “You know you've been sitting here since I left.”
“How was the party?”
“Katherine threw up. Charlie got a case, which was good. I won flip cup.” She's turned her phone on, only to turn it back off again.
I bow my head, nestling back into the armchair. Returning to Heathcliff, and to lukewarm milk.
“You should come next time. There were Washington kids there.”
“Said I should bring you.”
I get up to refill the milk. Before I reach the kitchen, I see she's forgotten to close the fridge; its reflection in the black windows glows florescent eggshell.
She follows me.
“You see Logan there?”
“Yeah.” She takes a banana yogurt from the fridge and peels the lid back. Goes rifling for a spoon.
“But did you see him see him?”
I watch the milk spin around the microwave. In the window’s reflection, I see her standing before the glass kitchen door in profile, facing its blackness as though facing a mirror.
Before I confirm this image as reality and not figment, however, she climbs on the bourbon block of the island and begins to eat the yogurt.
She goes to sleep sometime between when Heathcliff leaves and returns to Thrushcross. When I deposit the milk glass in the sink the trash compactor holds a Chobani banana yogurt carton contorted at a tumultuous angle.
The next morning, we sit munk-like over a plate of rice cakes, not talking. She has her legs criss-crossed on the chair.
“Give us this our daily air,” I say, smug with my own humor.
She's standing, however, too soon to acknowledge. “You want a smoothie? I want a smoothie.”
“You had a yogurt like an hour ago.”
“I'm having a smoothie.” She gets out a bowl of ice and takes the blender down from the cabinet above the fridge and sorts indecisively between the packs of frozen fruit mom bought her from Whole Foods.
She texts while she makes it, and fiddles with the nob on the blender, adjusting the speed.
As she makes the smoothie I eat my rice cakes, considering the pink paisley shirt she wears when she goes out. How she uses the print as uniform for the 70s rebelliousness she’s relocated to 2012. Kissing men and having no name for the friendship between them. Wearing braids.
The kitchen, balanced with sunlight comes alive to the slurp of yogurt and the violent crunching noise of crushed ice.
She puts it in a thin glass without a straw and sits back down. “How's Jonathan?”
“He's good.” I crunch a rice cake.
“How long’s it been now?”
“I don't know. Two months?”
“You and Logan dating yet?”
“No.” She looks into the smoothie glass, drinking a third of it in one slurp.
There is silence. I try deliberately to fill it with the sound of bananas and peanut butter and puffed rice against teeth.
“I don't really want to date him,” she says. She drinks some more. “I don't know if I like him that much.”
“Hmm.” I coat my teeth in another layer of peanut butter and banana.
“He's kind of immature,” she says.
“Oh.” I get up and clear my plate.
She feels compelled to follow. She trails me into the living room, where I climb back into the moors.
“Like I'm with him, and I'm like, I just don't know, you know? If I want to date him.”
“Yeah,” I say, though I don't believe it.
She exits the room promptly as though to extract herself from the palpable weight of the mistruth. As though sorry to have lied, and sorry to have had to.
I realize that our Golden, previously asleep at my feet, has followed her into the kitchen, so confused is he by the motion with which she moved.
A square of sun-bleached leather marks the place he left.