after Cheryl Dunye

No one has used the pool since.

MJ hasn’t left the house. She paces from room to room, leaving half-finished cigarettes glowing in her wake. Odd hours find her bathed in sweat, hunched straining over her laptop. Offsite, she asserts tersely, when they ask. No one questions it; seniority has its privileges. Iris haunts her, lingers in shadowed doorways reeking of vodka, failure, resentment. What royalties there were ran out years ago. MJ hides the keys and the knives — Iris can’t be trusted.

Carol and Lily stay busy with the garden. That is, Carol gardens, humming tunelessly as she plants tomatoes fathoms deep, and Lily watches. Small-boned, she avoids eye contact, slides away from Carol in the hallway, the bathrom, bed. She waits for her chance. The woods are sparse and trackless; tomatoes are a relative of belladonna.

Skye visits, makes awkward small talk, stays sober, eats little. She glows like a furnace, blistering, ruddy, furious. Cricket waits for her, waits for the concrete to fracture, waits for the water to find its level. The summer erodes her; they march towards an inevitable autumn.