A Long Thaw

A Long Thaw by Katie O’Rourke Read Free Book Online

Book: A Long Thaw by Katie O’Rourke Read Free Book Online
Authors: Katie O’Rourke
Tags: Literature & Fiction, Contemporary, Contemporary Fiction
that’s what it is?’
    ‘Yeah.’ Juliet pulls herself up onto the couch. ‘Hannah is the same age now as I was when Deirdre took us to California. And she’s already had to deal with so much more than I had by that age. When I think how much changed in a decade . . .’ Her voice trails off as she shakes her head. ‘I’m a completely different person than I was then.’
    Abby’s eyes flutter open. ‘You think?’
    Juliet nods and both girls close their eyes.
    After a few moments, Abby murmurs into the silence, ‘Juliet, can you sing?’
    Juliet turns to Abby and makes a face. ‘Not at all.’

Juliet
    Juliet wakes to the smell of coffee. She cracks open an eye to look at the time, but she hasn’t unpacked her alarm clock yet. By the dim light outside the window, she figures it could be seven a.m. or noon.
    Abby’s breaking eggs into a bowl in the kitchen. ‘Morning.’
    Juliet grunts as politely as she can manage. ‘What time is it?’
    ‘Nine. How’d you sleep?’
    ‘Good. I don’t remember going to bed.’ Juliet looks down at herself and sees that she’s still wearing her clothes.
    ‘We sort of passed out together on the floor. I woke up and helped you into bed. I would have left you on the couch but it really isn’t long enough for anyone past eight years old.’
    ‘Thanks.’ Juliet sits at the kitchen table.
    ‘How is the new mattress?’ Abby asks. It isn’t so much ‘new’ as new to them.
    Juliet tries to think about this. ‘Fine, I guess. Do you have any aspirin or something?’
    Abby gets a bottle out of the cabinet, shakes two pills into her palm and passes them to her. ‘I’ll get you some juice,’ she says. ‘Scrambled eggs okay?’
    ‘Sure,’ Juliet answers, although she isn’t really hungry.
    Abby puts a glass of orange juice on the table in front of her. Juliet throws the pills down her throat and swallows the whole glassful. She holds her head in her hands, elbows on the table, and watches as Abby cooks.
    ‘So, what, you drink like that every night?’ Juliet asks.
    Abby turns and smiles. ‘What do you mean?’
    ‘I feel just disgusting and you’re, like . . . Look at you.’
    Abby laughs. ‘I’ve just never done hangovers.’
    Juliet abandons all pretence and lays her head directly on the table, which is cool against her forehead. ‘Must be nice.’
    At noon Abby leaves to run errands and Juliet makes sandwiches. She spreads mayonnaise on four slices of bread, folds layers of ham on each and cuts cherry tomatoes in halves, lining them up so that there will be one in every bite. She puts each sandwich on a plate and places them across from each other on the table. She calls Jesse three times, but goes straight to voicemail. She leaves no messages.
    Juliet wanders around the apartment. She traces a finger along the dusty titles on the bookshelves. She examines the contents of each kitchen cabinet. She stretches out on the couch, gazing at the ceiling with her legs thrown over the end.
    She eats around the edge of her sandwich, outlining it with little half-moon bites. By two o’clock, she has eaten the entire thing and wrapped the other in cellophane, tucking it carefully away in the fridge.
    Jesse shows up at three.
    ‘You said you were coming for lunch.’ Juliet slouches against the open door. ‘I had to eat without you.’
    ‘That’s okay,’ Jesse says. ‘I ate already.’
    ‘Oh.’
    ‘So this is the new place,’ he says, as he walks inside.
    Juliet sighs. ‘What do you think?’
    He walks through the living room to the kitchen and looks out of the window. ‘Not bad.’
    ‘Abby went out for a while. You can meet her when she gets back.’
    Jesse shrugs off his jacket and throws it over a kitchen chair. ‘Where’s your room?’
    They walk into her bedroom and he shuts the door behind him.
    Juliet steps back as he presses his body against her, clutching her hair in his fists and kissing her mouth.
    ‘Jesse.’ She says his name quietly, like she’s

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