She has never met a fellow pedestrian along this stretch of sidewalk where the lawns are as stiff and green as Astroturf and studded with perpetual cheery blossoms, topiary with surgical edges, and fountains gushing nowhere, forever. The heat of the mica-flecked cement penetrates her stocking feet. She picks a sprig of jasmine for her hair and pauses to observe the pair of blonde Chihuahuas bouncing and shrieking at her from behind their vaulted leaded-glass window. By the time she reaches Mae’s house she’s slick with sweat. She retrieves the keys she hid behind the brass lion to get the mail from the mailbox and the large box from a florist and lets herself in.
It’s always chilly at Mae’s. On her way to the kitchen she pauses outside Holly’s door to listen, then stacks the mail neatly on the threshold. She arranges the flowers in a vase while the microwaves hums and then carries the bowl of popcorn back to her makeshift office in the living room. On the coffee table there is a note written in Holly’s tight script.
A large portion of this chapter has been deleted.
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