“I’d forgotten that it rains in November,” Holly said profoundly, leaning chin against palm and gazing out the window. The neighbor’s plump yellow lab was crouched under the lilac bushes, as usual. The bushes had lost their leaves over a month ago, but Francis seemed unaware that his cover was blown. Anyone who walked down the sidewalk was greeted with what Francis considered to be a surprise attack. It always ended up being mostly slobber, and some hardly menacing woofs. Satisfied, Francis would then slink back into his prickly cave, looking over his shoulder to make sure no one was watching.
Holly was supposed to be writing her Grammar and Language paper. She was supposed to be doing an online activity for Teach for America. She was supposed to be researching Virginia Woolf, researching fortune in Renaissance romance, cleaning her room. Instead, she had freshly painted toenails and about a thousand new recipe ideas from Pinterest.
The rain was hypnotizing, it was dulling. Droplets of it splattered Francis’ exposed yellow nose, which was, to his great chagrin, turning grey at the edges. Fat, wet globes grazed the Carnegie library across the street, flattening out before slithering down the brick walls. Cars went by in slow motion, their drivers rendered sweaty and sleepy from seat heaters.
And inside, Jordan and Natalie studied in the breakfast nook, their woolen feet propped on the bench opposite. A small fly threw itself again and again at the exposed lightbulb in the bathroom, which someone had left turned on. Holly considered rearranging her bookshelf: classics at the forefront, popular fiction shoved behind. Jordan pulled off his tam, ran his hand against the back of his head. The fly grinned in delight as its papery flesh sizzled against the fluorescent. Holly applied lipstick slowly, filling in every pink groove with red wax. It tasted like those little bottles of juice Mom used to buy for her and Amy every so often. Once the neon liquid was gone, one could bite into the soft plastic. Natalie typed a few words into her laptop, considered Jordan, considered the window, considered the cupboards and the paper bag full of recyclables. The fly rested on the toilet seat, staring up at the white-yellow globe, felt its rapid heart swell with adoration.
Below, Francis tucked his tail more securely under him, felt the rain let up.