The Swing of Things #3
He walked through a field, unsure of where he was. He felt strangely comfortable yet also disoriented. At the far edge of the field there was a house, large and looming. It looked like one of the deserted old farmhouses he knew were out in the countryside that bordered the nice little bit of suburban sprawl that he considered home.
Maybe he was somewhere near there. But why was he there? The sky looked dark and overcast. Either it was getting late or it was going to rain. For some reason, he knew he shouldn't get caught in the rain, so he decided to run. If it rained, he knew, there was going to be a flood.
The faster he ran, the farther he seemed to get from the house. Yet all of a sudden, he realized he was standing on the back porch, banging on the door.
When the door finally opened, there was a woman standing there that he didn't recognize.
"Come in," she said, smiling and moving to the side so he could enter. "And is that any way to greet your sister?"
Was it... it was Rebecca, grown up and set nicely into the roll of homemaker. Except that it was obvious that no one lived in the house. It seemed as though there was no electricity and definitely no other signs of life besides himself and Rebecca. There were only pieces of furniture, dark and dusty. A few random crates dotted the rooms he looked into, seeming very out of place.
"What is it?" Rebecca asked, appearing suddenly behind him as he searched the house. "What are you looking for?"
"I don't know," Tracey admitted. "I just don't seem to know."
"Then please come sit with me like you used to. Read me a story."
"Okay," Tracey replied, holding out his hand to take Rebecca's and lead her back to the parlor-like room. Hopefully he could find a candle so he could see. It was getting darker and darker and finally when he reached to grab Rebecca's hand, he found himself grasping at air.
Everything was dark.
Tracey sat straight up in bed, clutching onto one of his pillows. It wasn't even dark outside yet, meaning it was still fairly early.
The glowing green clock on the table next to his bed relayed that it wasn't even eight o'clock, which seemed right for the way it looked out the window.
But what was that dream? Tracey felt thoroughly shaken. He was worried about Rebecca but knew that by now his mother was home and if anything had happened, someone would hopefully have gotten him up.
Still, he raced downstairs to the family room and was quite relieved to see the rest of his family spaced around the television, watching it avidly.
"How was your first day?" Tracey's mother asked, looking up.
"Shhhh..." It was Vicky, who was glaring.
"Next commercial," Tracey said as he took a seat on the floor. He wasn't much of a television fan. He didn't quite have the urge to bother caring about fictional characters for years at a time.
Still, the show had a few funny moments before the commercial, ones that Tracey assumed would have meant more if he'd known who the characters actually were.
Tracey's mother had the television muted five seconds after the first commercial came on.
"So how was it? What are the other people there like?"
"It's not bad," Tracey replied. "My co-workers are all very nice so far. I'm a little surprised by that myself."
"It won't interfere with your education, will it?" his mother asked, narrowing her eyes. She was always a driving force for his attending college even though she knew quite well that he wasn't the most motivated student.
"Not at all," Tracey stated. "I can do both. My homework is already done for tomorrow anyway."
"Make sure you're getting enough sleep," his mother cautioned.
"Mom, it's back!" Vicky wailed, pointing at the screen.
And not wanting to interrupt family time any longer, Tracey retreated back to his room, only barely catching a small smile from Rebecca that looked a little eerie being lit only by the blue glow of the television.
Before Tracey knew it, it was time to get up and race through the shower. He hadn't done it after leaving the family room, thinking only that he was still really tired. Hopefully, he thought, he would figure out a slightly better strategy for balancing his time now that everything had shifted.
So far his favorite thing about getting ready for work had to be the actual drive. Every traffic light but one had already turned off for the day, leaving him clear to blow through blinking yellows on his way to the freeway. And even once he got back off the freeway, there was just the aforementioned one working light to keep him from a straight shot to the store's parking lot.
He pulled his car in next to Matthew's, recognizable in the dark thanks to a pair of stickers Tracey had noticed when they'd all left together the day before. Most everyone seemed to walk in and out together, a safety precaution apparently drilled into their heads over time.
Then again, a dark parking lot at three in the morning was a little spooky.
"You came back!" a voice called from behind him. It was Tessa, the vampiric woman who took care of the hangered clothing.
"Was I not supposed to?" Tracey asked, hanging back a couple of steps so she could catch up to him.
"Not too many come back," she replied, flashing a bit of fang as best she could for the dark surroundings. Tracey hoped they were just Halloween decorations and not real. Somehow the thought of a vampire for a coworker was a bit much, despite the fact that he had just mentally cataloged her as looking a bit too dark for her own good.
"Oh," Tracey commented. "Yeah... I guess that this could be a bit much for..."
"Most everyone," Tessa finished. "And if you make it two weeks, we know you'll stay for the season, if not longer."
"Sounds like you have an office pool going on this."
"Of course we do!" Tessa exclaimed with a somewhat disturbing laugh just as they got to the doors.
"I don't think I feel better," Tracey commented, watching as Tessa strayed off to where most of the crew hung their coats. Tracey hadn't bothered with one. Despite it being cool, he didn't think it was cold enough to bother with a coat yet.
As he went to go stand with a handful of other people by the time-clock, Tracey couldn't help but notice a very disoriented looking woman who was looking around nervously. Unsure of what to do, Tracey was thankful when Dinah grabbed her and started talking. It must be another new person, Tracey figured. There were bound to be quite a few of them before the holidays were over.
Already he had forgotten that he wasn't much of anything - just a seasonal temp filling in for no more than ninety days. It was a little depressing, but there was nothing he could really do about it besides try his best. As Lainey had told him at his interview, sometimes people were kept on after the holidays, depending on who was needed and how well they performed as seasonal help.
Somehow he feared he was entering into the sort of restaurant-like competition that he hated. But hopefully that wouldn't start until a bit later, until he was already trained to do his best and prove that he had what it took to...
Before he got too into the moment, Tracey decided he had better wait and see if he even liked the job first. One day was not quite enough to base an opinion on.
"Morning!" Tyler greeted him a moment later, infectious smile already on his face. "I already talked to Dynamo about putting you on the line with us and she said next week."
"Line?" Tracey asked. He'd already lost chunks of the vocabulary he'd learned the day before.
"You know, the unload conveyer - be one of us sorting minions," Tyler explained. "We do need a fourth on the front for the holidays."
"Okay," Tracey agreed. It didn't sound so bad. Actually, nothing sounded quite that bad, except maybe stocking some of the questionable items he had been thinking of the day before.
After punching in - a number had finally been assigned to him before he had left the day before - Tracey followed Tyler and Matthew, who had appeared out of thin air as most of the people on the crew seemed capable of doing, to the back of the store.
Kathleen, Laura, and Tessa were waiting for him, along with a woman whose name he absolutely could not remember. She was the one who stocked the men's underwear, he knew, but without a nametag, her name eluded his memory.
"Morning, Tracey!" Kathleen called, gesturing for him to come over and help set up for sorting. "And you can come here too, Matthew..."
"Halloween for me," Matthew replied, sticking out his tongue and holding his hands to his head like moose antlers. "Which is currently just like working over here but with more feathers."
Tessa and Kathleen glanced at one another.
"Oh no, no ideas. Do not torment Matthew," Tyler retorted, obviously reading their minds the instant they started thinking. "Just because he... um... nevermind."
Tracey was intrigued. Now there was a secret.
And Tracey did not like secrets.
However, by first break, Tracey had all but forgotten about Matthew's secret. It didn't really matter as Tracey was trying to concentrate on the glut of information he had thrust at him by Tessa. As she was severely overwhelmed for the day, she claimed that Tracey would be her assistant for the day.
Somehow walking dazed around the lingerie department actually was worse than anything Tracey could imagine. And having to do it while clutching an armload of bras absolutely took the cake. Every single one looked alike and despite Tessa being able to buzz around an empty the entire rack before he had taken care of what he was holding, she wasn't about to let him give up.
"Jilly bras are to the right, store-brand in the mid-front, and Hanes and the other national brands to the left," Tessa reminded him, pointing. "And they start at the top with the smallest sizes and work down to the biggest at the bottom. And don't get lost in the fact that you're handling women's underwear. You aren't. It's just fabric on a hanger until someone buys it."
"Right..." Tracey muttered, holding up a purple double d-cup job that looked as though it could be used to launch watermelons for distance. He certainly didn't want to think much about who would be buying it. The smaller ones weren't much better, he had to admit. Bras really didn't look like anything until they were on someone, even the shaped ones. In the dark of the half-lit store, things seemed less and less real and more dreamlike.
Looking at his armload as fabric on hangers, Tracey really did have an easier time unloading them into the correct locations. By the time he caught up with Tessa in the womens department, most of the awkwardness was gone. He wasn't seeing bodies in the clothing anymore but was instead just matching colors and brands, styles and fabrics. It was more like a puzzle than anything else.
As Tracey made his way into the juniors department, a brightly-colored subsection of womens, Tessa stopped him.
"Be careful, young one. Bright and horrible things lay beyond," she said, keeping a very straight face.
"I think my sister has some of this stuff," Tracey replied, screwing up his face in disgust. He could easily see why someone like Tessa would think lesser of both the clothing and those who bought it.
"The sad thing is that I buy my green shirts from here," Tessa admitted. "I have to wear them during the year, so I'll at least go for something that doesn't look like a sack of grass seed."
Tracey couldn't help laughing. He hadn't seen Tessa in uniform the day before and looking at her at that moment, dressed in flowing blacks, thinking of her in the outfit of a normal employee just didn't work in his mind. He was wearing his green and khaki already - it just seemed easier than dragging extra clothes to wear though he could understand why others would do it. Depending on exactly which department someone was assigned could mean a big difference on how dirty that person would end up by the end of the day.
"How are you two doing?"
Dinah's voice startled them both.
"Fine, Dynamo," Tessa said after a moment. "Tracey is a fast learner. I'd say he has a real knack for women's clothing, but that would just sound wrong."
Laughing, Dinah turned to Tracey. "You're okay helping Tessa?"
Well, truthfully it had been awkward at first, but everything was definitely getting easier. And Tessa was easy to work with, despite her looking quite scary at first. If Dinah was so worried about his masculinity getting bruised by hanging clothing, she didn't need to worry - it was just work and he may as well say as much.
"It's just work," Tracey replied. "As long as my sister doesn't start asking me about what's cool..."
Both Tessa and Dinah laughed at that.
"Fair enough," Dinah said, turning to go. "Break time."
"Good!" Tessa exclaimed as she hung the last of the shirts she'd been holding for the entire conversation. "I really could use a bite."
Faking a smile as he noticed Tessa flashing a bit of fang again, Tracey hurried off to the cafe area, getting there just as Dinah called over the public address.
Tyler marched up wearing a purple hat with a wide leopard spotted band, making him look a little like a displaced pimp. It looked relatively good on him, save for the price tag dangling in full view. Following him was Matthew, wearing cat ears.
"Definitely you," Kathleen called as she walked by. "Both of you!"
"I'll be done early today," Matthew replied. "I don't suppose you need a bit of feline grace in your neck of the store..."
"If it's okay with Dynamo, I'll take you in a heartbeat," Kathleen said with a giggle as she sat down.
"Why do you call her Dynamo?" Tracey asked as he was joined at one of the four-person tables.
"Well, back when the earth was young, Dinah was one of us working shmucks," Tyler began. "But instead of settling for being a standard, satisfactory shmuck, Dinah became the best shmuck there ever could be. She's still the fastest and most knowledgeable one here, which is probably why they promoted her."
"Makes sense," Tracey commented.
"Just one problem," Tyler continued. "See... ever since she left the line and left the floor and became a supervisory paper-pusher, we've never been able to match our times. It's embarrassing and she will never let us live it down!"
"You've been here long?"
"Four years," Tyler said. "And Matthew is one of last year's rookie's. He's proof that it's not complete bullshit when they say that sometimes people get kept after the season's done and gone."
"I tend to think Kathleen had something to do with that," Matthew said, looking at his obvious mentor.
"Well, the only real choice was between you and that clumsy girl who broke more ornaments than she stocked," Kathleen stated, chuckling. "Last year's temps were painful to watch."
"Especially the Caz stalkers," Matthew said, rolling his eyes.
Tracey's confusion poured over onto his expression.
"Let me guess," Tyler said, smiling. "You've never heard of Keeping Still."
"I'd never heard of them before meeting Caz," Matthew interjected. "And you're my age, right?"
"Twenty," Tracey said. "And no, I've never heard of them."
"Probably for good reason - they were a one-album band who splintered just as they were breaking big time. And now their guitarist, Caz, is the junior backroom captain," Tyler explained. "So every now and again some of the few but insane Keeping Still fans track him down and act like complete idiots."
"Somehow," Matthew continued, not missing a beat, "no one thought to ask a pair of insane girls if they were Keeping Still fans. I had just started here but even I was ready to push a couple of display trees onto their vapid empty heads."
"Caz just wants to do his job," Kathleen said. "It's not his fault that he's lord of backstock instead of snorting his weight in cocaine with fashion models at his feet."
Tracey smiled. It seemed the safest thing to do, save for wonder if perhaps the community college radio station would honor a request to play something by the mysterious Keeping Still. He now wanted to hear them and didn't know enough to feel comfortable just out and buying the album, if he could find it.
"So have you thought anything about helping Tyler with his non-existent love life?" Matthew asked suddenly.
"Still in," Tracey replied, stretching a bit against the back bench where he sat. He actually regretted sitting down. Fatigue was setting in already and he knew he'd have a hard time getting motivated again. He wondered if he really could sleep on his feet.
"I tried to call her yesterday afternoon but just got her voicemail." Tyler fidgeted in his seat. "Maybe it would just be better if I... I can't bring myself to do it."
"Do you still love her?" Kathleen asked.
"I don't know if I'm in love with her," Tyler replied.
There was a minute of silence as the weight of the conversation settled down onto them all.
"So... Tracey, do you like video games?"
Tracey had not thought much about video games for the last couple of years, instead opting to waste his time on winning a girl he had no chance with and also with the pictures that decorated one wall of his room. He could draw well, but he had lost all inspiration after permanently losing all chances at the aforementioned girl.
That evening Tracey found himself happily adventuring his away through a maze-like action game, remembering how much fun he had back when he used to spend more time holed up with similar activities.
A knock at his door startled him and before getting up to answer it, he quickly saved his game and let it reset to the title screen. Scrambling to his feet, Tracey awkwardly loped over to the door, one of his legs half-asleep and threatening to buckle.
Rebecca stood in the hallway, gazing at the carpet but clutching her math book.
"Need some help?" Tracey asked, leaning against the door and giving her space to enter.
"Mom's busy with paperwork again," Rebecca replied. "And I have your present, but I didn't want Vicky to see it earlier."
Tracey smiled. He had completely forgotten about Rebecca arranging for her new friend to draw a picture for him.
"Well, come in. Sit down," Tracey instructed. After Rebecca was safely settled onto his bed with her legs tucked beneath her, Tracey closed the door and went over to switch off both his television and his aged Playstation.
"Were you busy?" Rebecca asked suddenly, clutching her text book to her.
"Not too busy for you," Tracey answered. "So what do you have for me tonight?"
"Homework first," Rebecca said, a smile suddenly brightening her face. "And then goodies."
"Actually, I think I have it done. I just want you to check it," Rebecca explained as she handed over the book. "You can look at page seventy-two, but that's it. We were only assigned ten problems and I understood them all this time."
Tracey couldn't help echoing Rebecca's smile. A quick glance at her work showed that it was complete and accurate.
"Looks good," Tracey said as he mentally worked out the last problem.
"You mean it?" Rebecca asked incredulously. "I mean..."
"It looks good," Tracey reiterated. "I think you've gotten the hang of it."
"Well, it's always made sense in class but then when I come home, it stops making sense," Rebecca said, wincing. "So I started it at the end of class but didn't get too far yet when I got home it still made sense for some reason."
"Because you're understanding it," Tracey said, chuckling. Sometimes he forgot just what being twelve was like.
"Okay," Rebecca continued as Tracey settled himself onto the bed with his legs crossed in front of him. "Now flip to page, um, two-hundred and twenty three."
Wondering just what he was in for, Tracey zipped through the pages until the book fell open to a smaller, thicker piece of paper.
The warm fuzzies came back as Tracey got a good look at the drawing carefully kept flat by the confines of a pre-algebra text. At first, Tracey couldn't tell whether the figure was male or female, realizing its masculinity only by the slight broadening of the body across the shoulders.
For a young artist, it was quite good. The character seemed to be some sort of fae creature, with dark wispy wings that seemed eternally caught in the same breeze that his hair was.
"His name is Jorin," Rebecca explained. "And Emily did give me a copy of the magazine she writes for. It's all about cartoons and games and stuff."
"This is really good," Tracey finally said out loud, picking up the picture to examine it closer. The technique was workable and the anatomy was accurate. And the way it captured motion surpassed most of his own stuff. But truthfully, he had never pursued art outside of a hobby. He decided once that he would rather do it as something he liked as opposed to something he had to do.
Suddenly, however, a college art course sounded appealing. He wanted to try his own hand at Jorin to see what he could do.
"She drew me one of a girl named, um... Aya-nor," Rebecca stated, stumbling on the name. "She's not a faerie like Jorin but something else. Oh... It's in the magazine. I need to finish reading it, but not tonight. I want to watch my shows instead."
"Can I read it?" Tracey asked, curious. He had the next day, Wednesday, off from work and could stay up as late as he wanted, save for the lingering ache in his feet that reminded him just how many hours he had been awake already.
"Of course!" And before Tracey could say another word, Rebecca was out the door, leaving him holding her math book and staring at the enchanting mass of lines that formed a reasonably colored faerie.
He looked at his own drawings for a moment. Maybe he could do a little something as repayment for such a nice gift.
Tracey was quite about to dismiss 'Remote Transmissions' as an overly pretentious, poorly-edited mass of words strewn onto paper with no rhyme or reason. But he couldn't, because as he would his way into the belly of the beast, Tracey realized the subtle genius at work. No article was overly long that it would cost vital space to something obviously supported by a small number of advertisers. And while the subject matter was not exactly his cup of tea, everything was interesting enough that Tracey found himself pouring through the information presented as though it were the most interesting thing he had found in ages.
Halfway through, he realized it actually was the most interesting thing to cross his path lately. And he hadn't even found the work of Rebecca's friend yet. Instead Tracey found himself snickering as he read about a group of staff members and friends who had auctioned themselves off in order to support the magazine. Most of their stories were being held for the next issue, but the couple that were in there certainly seemed surreal.
Tracey found himself reading one story out loud, trying to make sense of a puzzle whose pieces were not fitting together in his mind.
"Remote Transmissions staff writer Billy T. happily sacrificed new love interest, the amicable Matthew A. so that Matthew could spend the evening with his temporary master, Arielle. The pair dined at... shit, I can't pronounce that..."
Shaking his head once, Tracey continued.
"After dinner, the pair caught a showing of Moroder's Metropolis... like I would know what that is..."
At that, Tracey gave up and contented himself with video game reviews. And a few minutes later, not quite ready to take in any more information, Tracey decided it was more important to actually play a video game.
After he took a nap, of course.
Still, it nagged at him... But the magazine was from Toronto. There was no way that the Matthew mentioned and the Matthew he just met could be one in the same. And there was certainly no reason for Matthew to have a Canadian girlfriend.
Letting sleep slowly tempt him, Tracey pulled a fuzzy blanket over himself.
For some completely idiotic reason, Tracey had turned his alarm clock off. As he rolled over and stared its green glowing numbers in the face, he was suddenly aware that when given the option of sleeping all day, he really would sleep all day. Luckily it was still early enough for him to get to class. But he had time for nothing else, by his figuring. The day was a waste. However he did feel quite rested and better in general. The aches that were gathering in his leg muscles were gone finally.
The half-read copy of Remote Transmissions had been knocked to the floor and thinking more coherently on it, he couldn't believe that even for an instant he had thought to connect his new friend with some stranger in a city four hours away. Chalking it up to his brain doing weird things when tired, Tracey sat up and stretched, slowly going about his morning as quickly as he could. He lingered where he could linger, mainly in the shower, but when it came down to it, he was out of the house right on time.
Without really thinking about it, Tracey tuned to the college station. As an off-key, jangly melody flowed from his three working speakers, Tracey remembered hearing about Keeping Still and Caz, the mystery backroom employee.
Tracey had not managed to catch sight of Caz, despite being rather sure that Caz had to be around somewhere the day before. He could only imagine some sort of large, scary presence based on the stories Tyler told until they'd all punched out for the day.
There was a seemingly unending succession of traffic lights between Tracey's house and the community college, and it was one of those rare days where Tracey seemed to be hitting them all just as they turned red.
"That was CTRL+Z on Border Radio!" the college disk jockey said, her microphone a bit too low but not shorting any of her enthusiasm. "Remember, if any of you have a request, just call me, DJ Jaydra..."
She gave the phone number, and lacking anything else to do while semi-trucks lumbered through the intersection, Tracey dug through his backpack for his cell phone. As soon as the music started again, Tracey sent the call through.
"Hello, Border Radio," Jaydra's voice answered. "What can I do you for?"
"Do you have a CD by a band called Keeping Still?" Tracey asked, mentally crossing fingers he couldn't physically take from the wheel as the light turned and he made his way cautiously toward the next light, which was a block away and just turning red.
"Got three of 'em," Jaydra commented. "Which song would you like to hear?"
"Three?" Tracey questioned. "I thought they only had one CD."
"One major label CD," Jaydra explained. "Two independent albums, five singles, and three tracks on compilations. I have the miscellanea on minidisk, but it doesn't sound like you want to hear anything too obscure."
Tracey felt really, really stupid at that exact moment. So stupid, in fact, that the elderly lady driving the Cadillac sitting behind felt the need to honk as he sat there halfway through a green light.
"I just heard their name for the first time last night," Tracey admitted. "And I wanted to know what they sounded like."
"I'll play a few for you then," Jaydra said. "Any dedication?"
"Just let me know when they're on," Tracey replied as he decided to find a route not involving traffic lights. Red glared down at him as though it were mocking him.
"Can do, buddy. And if you want more information, I'm around the station."
"Thanks. Bye," Tracey said, clicking off his phone. Now all he could do was wait, both for the music and for the light.
He didn't have to wait long. As soon as the current song ended, Jaydra was back on the radio, sending a trio of Keeping Still songs out to Mystery Caller Number One.
As he walked in the door that afternoon, Tracey was still singing the chorus of the last Keeping Still song that Jaydra had played for him. He now understood why Keeping Still had been on the brink of world domination - hearing the song just once made him absolutely crave more.
Something was amiss in the house, however. He knew Vicky wasn't home, yet he heard laughter coming from the kitchen. Whatever was going on, it was definitely strange. Rebecca didn't laugh often, and certainly not in near-harmony with anyone else...
Tracey wandered slowly into the kitchen, making sure his footfalls were heavy enough to announce his presence. When he stuck his head through the doorway, he was surprised to see Rebecca sitting at the table with another girl, both pouring over a stack of pictures.
"Tracey!" Rebecca's face shone even brighter when she saw him. "This is Emily. Mom said she could come over for awhile today."
"Nice to meet you," Tracey said, looking over at Emily. She was still losing her baby fat, but she looked her age. Her medium brown hair frizzed in a halo around her head, screaming for a more expensive and time consuming conditioner.
"Uh-huh," Emily replied shyly. "Rebecca said you liked the picture I drew for you."
"Very much," Tracey replied. "I want to try to draw him too, if that's okay with you."
"He used to," Rebecca said.
"Are all of these from your stories?" Tracey asked suddenly, seeing the actual art instead of just the pile of paper.
"Yeah... Did Rebecca tell you that I write for a magazine?"
Tracey was amused by the flushed red that spread across Emily's face. It was flattering, even if Emily was only thirteen. It clicked a moment later that Vicky was also thirteen. Yet there seemed to be light-years between the two girls. For a brief second Tracey wondered about an exchange between the two girls. Keeping Emily would certainly be better than the nauseating cheerleader shtick Vicky emanated. It was hard enough dealing with people like that when he was in school, let alone suddenly being related to one.
But Vicky had always been her own person, just like Rebecca had always just been a shadow of a person. Until now.
"Yes, she did," Tracey replied, tearing himself away from Emily's universe. He wanted to give the girls as much time alone as they needed. He didn't want to linger. "And I think I'm going to go play a few minutes of my game. Are you staying for dinner, Emily?"
"My brother is picking me up at five," Emily said. "Maybe next time."
Nodding, Tracey grabbed himself a can of pop from the fridge and headed off to his room. And yet again, he lost himself in a blur of worlds until he heard the doorbell echoing through the house.
Just as he stepped into the front hall of the house, Rebecca was opening the door. Catching the eyes of a slightly damp and bedraggled Matthew escaping into the house from the rain, Tracey smiled. It just made sense.
"Never thought I'd see you up this late at night," Tracey said, chuckling.
"You!" Matthew started laughing too, confusing both girls who were watching awkwardly.
"We work together," Tracey said quickly. "And now you two are friends."
"I wish we could stay a bit longer," Matthew added. "But Mom's best friend is having a gallery showing thing at eight and we're all expected to show up. I'll be a zombie at work tomorrow, but Dynamo will cut me a little slack."
"See you, then," Tracey said softly, making a quick, wave-like gesture as the pair headed out the door, Emily covering her backpack as best as possible, hoping to keep her collected works safe.
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