Whew, so we actually did get this up before midnight on the 26th as promised, but barely. And now, as the announcement blog post goes up, it’s already the 27th. Oh well. Here it is anyway—Mabel and I have had a hell of a week, but we made it—hope you enjoy!
“Friends with Benefits”
story by Mabel Harper & Cassidy Webb
written by Cassidy Webb
Caren hadn’t been able to sleep that night.
Her dreams were too full of Luke. And snow.
And a darkness, blooming out of some dank, shuttered corner of her mind. A thing she couldn’t yet name.
She shook her cigarette pack—just one left.
Mental note: Make a trip to the supermarket.
Caren released a drag, watched it droop beneath the weight of the moist morning air. Gripped the rain-dewed fire escape railing, eyes absently trailing the dingy brick alley her apartment wall shared with a dozen-ish others.
A lanky amber-skinned girl about twelve scampered into the alley from around the corner, giggling and typing on a phone. A boy a little older chased after, trying to grab the phone out of her hands. She dodged him. He threw his arms around her, picked her up and spun her. She kicked and shrieked and laughed.
Late afternoon sun from the window lay in streamers across Caren’s bed, dappled by trembling tree-shadows. She could feel the light, soft and warm on her skin.
Max Bemis was crooning “Every Man Has a Molly” from Luke’s laptop on her dresser.
“What do you want more than anything else in the world?” Luke asked.
He lay on his back next to her in her bed, fiddling with the ties of his hoodie, making the little frayed ends touch each other like he was completing a circuit. He always did this on lazy days—asked Caren random silly questions.
Caren stared at the ceiling. Picked at one of the scabs on her knuckles. “I dunno.”
“C’mon, tell me. Anything you want. I’ll get it for you…”
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