She wore a loose cover, deep blues and teals bleeding together all the way down to the tops of her feet, curling around the back of her neck and dripping down her sides to pool in the small of her back. Her left hand gripped her right hip and the other twisted the halter top knot at the base of neck, her head turned away towards the woods as though it could not bear to look over the water.
“I can’t do this,” Lyn said.
“Now or never,” Chloe answered, hand light between Lyn’s shoulders. They stood in the screened-in porch at the back of Chloe’s house. The shade made the bright backyard a world away, the girl in blue by the swimming pool a picture on a TV screen. In the dark, Lyn seemed to wait in the seconds before someone pressed ‘play’ for the next scene.
“I pick never,” Lyn said.
“Too bad, because there’s no way she didn’t see you pulling in the driveway and now she knows we’re watching her like creeps.” Chloe’s hand fell away, but she didn’t start forward. She stared at Lyn, prompting her to move, but she shook her head, and nodded toward the pool.
“You know how they make you read Greek tragedies in school and it’s always people doing these great terrible things and then the gods ruin their life for breaking their sacred laws? It’s never like that in real life, is it?” Lyn spoke too quickly, voice cracking. Chloe turned, looking at her with faint surprise.
“Lyn, are you okay?” Chloe asked, the first time anyone had asked her that since she’d been to court.
“It’s the little rules that you have to follow,” she continued. “Those are the ones that mess you up. Use your words, stop and think, look both ways—“
“Don’t text while driving? Because that’s a pretty big rule. I figured you would know that by now.” Chloe sounded angry, but Lyn couldn’t spare a glance at her face; she was too busy watching the girl in blue’s hand drop from her neck to her chest, falter there, and then jerk back to tug the knot undone.
The cover slid forward faster than she could catch it and she had to grab the cloth at her stomach. The move unbalanced her and her feet, tangled in the slack cover, took panicked little steps—typical Harper, Lyn thought—until she let the cover fall altogether and picked one long foot at a time from the pile. She turned to pick it up, and Lyn sucked in her breath so sharply it whistled against her teeth.
Harper quickly folded the cloth back around her waist, but the sight covered up was burned as deeply into Lyn’s mind as it was in Harper’s skin : something a surly, deep rose, a crack across her right hip that seemed to spill her insides.
“Don’t say a word,” Chloe said under her breath, hand appearing again at Lyn’s elbow and digging the nails into the back of her arm, just briefly. “Don’t you dare make her feel bad about it too.”
Who do you think I am? is on the tip of Lyn’s tongue, but she jerked her arm from Chloe’s grasp and walked into the sun, readying her apology instead.