Chloe says Papa Razzi’s homeless, probably a convicted ped-ass too. Telan says Shut up, here he comes.
Child, where’d you get those boots.
Chloe rolls her eyes.
Telan says They were my sister’s.
He nods. Grab a shot?
Okay. Telan puts her feet up on the table. Papa crouches, fires away. You got a buckle broke.
The sun’s in Telan’s eyes. I know, she says. They’re beat.
He shakes his head. Just need a little work. I know your sister.
Everything stops. Telan’s hands are someone else’s. They slip her shades on, bring her beer.
He’s still shooting. Saw you Parents Weekend. Hadda be her, looks just like you, right?
Chloe makes a noise. Telan’s beer is warm. She drinks anyway.
Papa straightens, lowers his camera, studies her. Hope you don’t mind my askin’, but the way you were sittin’, nobody talkin’— made me wonder.
Chloe says What?
His eyes are pale blue, watery, misaligned. Telan says carefully, She’s on your card?
Chloe’s staring at her. Papa looks pained. It ain’t big enough, I got to clean it off, nights. I got her on my hard drive, though. I do.
Some detached part of her makes a decision. Digs in her moneypocket, finds a crumpled ten.
Next time bring me an 8 x 10. Okay?
Telan, Chloe says. Telan waves her off.
He squints at the ten. Twenty I can do staples.
She doesn’t understand. Oh: Staples.
He nods. It’s farther, I gotta catch a bus. But Kinko’s sucks.
Halfway across the bridge, Chloe can’t stand it anymore. The fuck was that?
Telan shrugs. He’ll leave us alone now.
Chloe stops, grabs Telan’s arm. An Asian kid bumps into them. Sorry.
Chloe says Wait. So—
We won’t see him again. And twenty’s cheap.
Chloe stares at her. So no sister?
Just you, roomie, Telan says. Just you.
Chloe’s not buying it, pulls her to the rail. You were crying. And you cry in your sleep. She lets go Telan’s arm. You can tell me, you know?
For a moment Telan wants to. Really does. But if she does, she’s not Telan anymore, she’s the girl whose crazy sister killed herself, who’s crazy now too.
A line of bikes sail by. An auburn-haired girl’s keeping up on an old mountain-bike, a blue one, like Caitlin had. Chloe says Telan but she needs to see, steps down off the curb: Caitlin? And Caitlin looks up, and it is her, and she’s smiling. Lifting one finger to her lips: Shh…
A horn honks, brakes squeal, Chloe’s screaming, pulling at her. She’s lying on the sidewalk. Her shin hurts. Her knee. Chloe kneels beside her. Ring of kids staring. I’m good, she says. I’m good. Her head’s ringing.
I’m sorry, Chloe says. I get pushy. I’m sorry.
They’re resting on the Harmon Museum’s steps. Telan’s shin throbs. It’ll be an ugly bruise.
Not your fault. I thought—
(Caitlin smiling: Shh.)
What? Chloe says.
Telan shakes her head. Doesn’t matter.
Chloe sighs. Scooches over, puts her arm around Telan. No. It doesn’t. Just–pay fucking attention. Okay?
Nobody’s held her in forever. Telan wants to say something funny, wants to say Thank you, but can’t.
About the author:
Mark Reep is an artist and writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Art Collector, Endicott Journal, Metazen, cur.ren.cy, A-Minor, Right Hand Pointing, Blue Fifth Review, Prick of the Spindle, Moon Milk Review, Camel Saloon, Big City Lit, Fictionaut Selects, and Word Riot’s 10th Anniversary Anthology. He is the former editor of Ramshackle Review, and is represented by West End Gallery, Corning, New York; and Jardine Gallery, Perth, Scotland. Visit his website and blog.