I came down the red stairs and didn’t care about the dust or the things underneath me, but I knew she would. Down a ways and I was in the living room ignoring it and the guitar stand that looked like it was the one from Last Days in that scene where they were rehearsing. I’d slipped on some bottle before and it made me stretch out in a way, because I wanted to run later on today and a chip came off my black toenail polish and I used the table to help me climb up where I found a packet of cigarettes and no lighter. So I looked all around the room and told myself not to light my hair on fire because it was scraggily and all down and around my shoulders at this time, I’d have to look for a clip somewhere. After I came into the kitchen and crossed the linoleum tiled floor, smoking, I opened the cabinets to see teapots where the plates should be and stashes of herbal tea in boxes where the cups and coffee mugs were supposed to be stacked. The light was coming through the window a little and I walked towards that part of the room, where the window was on the left, to the right of the stove, and pulled the thin pink nylon curtains a ways so that I could see further out to the field. I should open the window. The house would smell stale from smoke. I thought about bacon and burned toast because that’s how it usually came out in the oven, but thought of something else because smoking suppressed my appetite. So I went back upstairs, crossed the hall from John’s room, didn’t peak in and saw the light, brighter now, coming into my room. I pulled apart clothes from my bed with one hand, taking in puffs with the other, and looked again out towards the window, towards the field. I wanted to keep looking at it. I felt he was there, in that barn across the way. He’d told me about that swimming hole once. I wanted to go there, but not today. I was going to Sandy’s. I found what I was looking for once I walked past my closet and into the bath that had its door constantly opened. The tub was old in an antique way, but I always left the curtain opened. I set my cigarette down on a yellow ashtray on top of the toilet seat, shut the lid, sat down on it and looked out the window wondering where to find him. He said he was going to be down at Jack’s today and I wanted to sit down on that green couch and just stare out his window the whole day. He had the best view. The lavender curtains in my way in front of the window had a stain on the bottom left side and I was trying to think of where it might have come from, but I just picked up my cigarette and thought of getting some coffee for Jack before I headed over there. I could hear someone rustling in the next room, just getting up, and I looked down at my wrist for the time, as if I’d have something there. I hadn’t worn a wrist watch since middle school. I guessed that it was Todd just getting up for work. He had to be in by seven on Saturdays. I was picturing his room now, all stark except for the west side of the wall that he’d painted black. I’d cut out some pictures from my magazine and went in there one day while he was at work, tacking things here, and nailing things up there. I didn’t say a word when he came home and mumbled to himself while picking up laundry and button down shirts off his floor, asking who put me up there. I pictured that twin bed unmade and that tiny closet with half the clothes removed, half of em on the floor of his room. I got up to leave and walked back through the bathroom door and past my own clothes on the floor to grab something to wear from my closet cause I was late. I rustled through my clothes quickly and got down on my knees to start choosing some shoes because I wanted to pick something out that I knew about; I was taking to long to decide. I saw some long maroon fabric hanging down past all my other clothes and I pulled it down from its hangar, remembering it now, and pulled on some black cotton Mary James that I slipped on and ran out my door and down my steps to grab my purse from off the rack where I always hung it, that was probably some gun rack that belonged to one of the guy’s. When I got through the door I was blinded real quick by how bright it was, but I headed off to my car, got in and reached back in my backseat to grab the pack of cigarettes that someone had left in there. Jay had left some cd in my system the day before and it came on real loud when I turned the ignition. I pulled out the back and turned right out of our drive and went driving down the road passing different houses on the left and right seeing the town rise up from three story buildings to block the pasture I’d just driven out from. And then when I got down the road there was that clearing or the forest that reminded me of the college my mom had gone back to and taught or had taken classes from when I was younger, maybe in my teens or something and I thought about the classes that I was taking now and how I somehow didn’t fit into it all, teaching, teaching English to high schoolers. I was practically the same age as them. How could they take me seriously and how could I not let them get to me? I wanted something to sip as I said this. I had to have something to hold constantly, something to grab onto. So since I knew that there was a coffee place up the way, pass this big hill, past this big hill where there was a forest and tall then taller trees, I turned into Sandy’s and parked my car next to a red one and got out to see if she was inside so that I could spill to her how Jay hadn’t come home last night and could she guess where he might be? Comfort me, comfort me, Sandy. When I walked past my car and stumbled over towards the Koy waterfall and watched a goldfish swim here and there and looked around for some food that I could throw in there to those hungry fish. So after I looked out and saw the stream up a ways and through the forest on the left, I wiped my shoes on the red and green carpet, even though it was summer, and headed towards the left of the place where she was scooping out stuff from a coffee filter. No one was really in yet and since the right side of the wall really didn’t have any windows, Jay had painted it this mango color that I’d pushed Sandy to pick out cause while I was in there one night, studying in the back, by the bay window with the little sage plants in the plastic pots, I saw them flipping over color swatches and I took a break to go over there and peak into what they were flipping through. It looked nice now and it made me want to figure out where he’d been all night even more.
“Hey Sandy.” I said. She stood up straight, still back to me, and turned around at the sound of my voice. She was cleaning off the stone purple granite countertop with a squeegee sponge. I got out my wallet from my satchel and pulled out a few dollars to lay down so that I could walk across the way and look out my favorite window. She called to me after I was there, looking out at the tall trees and that stream that pulled a long ways from the koy waterfall. “Where’s Jay?” She asked. “I don’t know. He didn’t come home last night,” I said. I drank my coffee and watched the rain pelt little drops on my window, looking for other kinds of fish in the water a ways from it. I could see some houses up through a ways, up the hill and though of Daaven’s. “I’m gonna run up to Daaven’s now and bring something to him. Maybe he’s there. He’ll hate it that I stopped in, but I’ll find an excuse. Maybe I’ll complain about my car or say it’s not working right.” I was still looking out the window and I could hear her rustling around behind the counter, back in the front room. She probably wasn’t even listening. I took some other gulp and walked back into the room and watched her put some butter on some bread, maybe they were new muffins that she was just putting into the oven. I looked down at the counter and saw that she hadn’t taken the two dollars that I’d left for her. So I pulled out my wallet from my satchel again, pulled out two more bucks, put em on the counter and helped myself to a cup from the holder and went to fill it up.
I put some muffin crumbs that Sandy wound up giving me before I left in the Koy pond by the door and I was glad Jay wasn’t here because he’d of not let me, or yelled at me if I did. The fish swam around in lazy circles until they came up to the surface to suck the blueberry grains down. I felt late. I walked back into my car, got in, pulled out and headed back north on the road that I’d come from. Daaven’s house was probably a mile up the road and I was fishing for an excuse in my head for what to say when I knocked on his door. Some of them would probably be asleep, but not Jay. He was usually up around five. It drove me crazy. As much as we all smoked, well as much as I held a beer in my hand, I still passed out by 9. And five? I’d roll over and sleep some more until seven or something. I past woods and some houses high up on the hill, a red one, with a wide door. Two minutes later and I was pulling up on the mulch that Daaven and Jay had spread through his yard, trying to stay back farther enough from the house so that they wouldn’t hear me. I walked out and felt the cold air and it made me feel happy, thinking of my Halloween costume and just thinking of orange and black made me want to take out another cigarette from my satchel before knocking on his door. So I walked past the living room window and around to the back, where there was a slab of pavement and a whicker chair with a clean green cushion. Someone must have just brought this out because it had rained a little the night before. I looked around self-consciously for Daaven or J. What if he wasn’t even here? I had to come up with an excuse. I was looking out seeing the one story white house on the hill above Daaven’s. The sun was coming out above it and I could see a sofa bed in the bay window. A cat came and crawled up towards the sill and I was trying to see if it looked like a tabby or a calico. I had cats at home but Jay wouldn’t let me bring them upstairs so I hung out in the basement on the red carpet with them where his drums and John’s guitars all were. They mostly played on Sundays and since the computer was in the living room on the second floor where there was no windows and just a fireplace at the end, no one noticed them.
I heard a plate clink or a glass hit another cup and I thought of classes and how I wanted to get to school and to the library or to the coffee shop around from it on the corner to read and wanted to just go inside and see if Daaven had seen J so I could give him this cold coffee and get going. I walked back around towards my car and walked to the left side of the house where the door was, looked passed the screen and didn’t see anyone in the living room. When I knocked quietly I saw someone come through the kitchen and then go back into it again. They didn’t hear me. So I knocked again and when J peaked around the corner I felt relieved and then thought to say that I lost my textbook and couldn’t find it anywhere, say that I thought I’d left it in his trunk when we all went to the concert the other night. He walked grumpily towards the door and when he opened it I spilled my whole excuse and stood outside on the stoop giving him his coffee after a while. He asked me to come in for just a minute and so when I walked past the shelves that were holding all of Daaven’s records, no taller then up to my knees, but that took up the length of the wall, I thought of the band we saw and how I heard that the girl was working down at the Sunset World in town and walked towards the breakfast room in the back. This whole place was like a lodge, with lumber and the fats of trees sticking out from every wall. J put his coffee on the table and stared straight out the window towards the same hill, up where the white house was with the cat. He kept staring straight, saying that they had to rebuild Daaven’s amp at the last minute since they were playing before eight tonight at that new place. He asked what I did last night and if I’d gone out with Talia, my best-friend, which I had. I missed him. He’d been working nights at the house, on the second floor, his favorite room, the one with no windows. I believed my own lie, watched Daaven walk into the back of the kitchen to start the burner and asked Jay if I could grab his keys to check his trunk. He told me they were back in the bedroom down the hall, by his jeans. He walked into the kitchen and said something to Daaven so I walked back through the living room and past their hall closet and turned left walking accidentally into the bathroom where a cat jumped out from a pink shower curtain. There were some new photos of Death Cab taped up to the green tile that had since wilted from the steam that was in there. I walked into the next room looking for his jeans and found them next to his bed, by the closet. There was a half length mirror over the dresser that had postcards and pictures stuck in them and I wanted to see who was writing Daaven, on the back of them. But after I found his keys, walked down the hall and past the pictures on the wall I hurried out the door and past my car to Jay’s where I went around the back to pop it open with my key, pretended to look around, looked through some old albums of records and a sweater that Jay’s mom had brought him up last time she was here, and a thermos with old water. I shut it, got my notebook out from my car and walked back inside through the door to drop Jay’s keys back to him so that I could leave. I was picturing a table at Sunset now and wanted to be halfway done with my chapter now, ready for class. He told me to stay and sit with him until he was done with his coffee, at the breakfast table, but I got out of it and went through the living room checking back out those records on the knee level shelf and walked back out the door so that I could head up the right of town and read.