(Get caught up from the beginning.)
Huddled under the building’s overhang, Irvin took a furtive drag from his cigarette. The wind was cold and, as usual, he’d forgotten his coat. “You look like a little urchin out here,” Clarice had said the last time she had bumped into him smoking, on her way back from Starbucks.
On days like today, he felt like one. The job depressed him. He made enough here to make payments on his truck, help his mother with the mortgage. Then student loans. There was always a little left over after that, but never much. Not enough to dream on. Certainly never enough to go anywhere.
“Where would you go, if you could go anywhere?” Sakura had asked him, the last time.
“Australia.” Irvin had never given it much thought, but when it came out of his mouth he knew it was true.
Sakura smiled. “Yes. The beaches there. I would learn to surf.”
He couldn’t imagine her surfing. He sat up in bed and tried to put his arm around her. “So you’d come with me?”
“Oh yes,” she said. “Yes.”
She must be leading him on. Doing what she was paid to do, basically. “We will go, baby.” Sakura lifted her narrow hand to bump knuckles with him. “Sydney or bust.”
“Hang ten, baby.”
Irvin ground out his cigarette. Sometimes he couldn’t believe his own stupidity. He knew he’d call her again, too. Stupid. Stupid. Weekends were too long and lonely.
Irvin tossed the end of his cigarette into the nearest trash barrel. As he turned to go back inside, he felt someone watching him. That red-headed girl sat halfway across the plaza, perched on a brick wall. When Irvin looked over, she waved with the tips of her fingers. Irvin glanced back at the plate glass windows of his building. Then he stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked over. “Sup?”
“Hey.” Darcy slipped off the wall and hugged him.
Irvin doubted that their acquaintance merited hugging, but he let her do it anyway.
“Is it weird that I’m here?” Darcy’s face looked chapped from crying.
“I don’t know.” Irvin dreaded getting in the middle of anything. “Why ARE you here?”
Darcy pulled her hood over her messy hair. “I just — I have to talk to him. But I don’t want to mess up what he has with that girl.”
I am not getting involved, Irvin told himself. “Look, do you want me to get Thom? It’s getting cold out here.”
Darcy held onto his elbow. She was a touchy-feely little thing. “Do you think I will?” she said. “Ruin things for him? I really, really don’t want to. I really don’t.”
“I don’t know.” They were at the doors to the building now. Irvin brushed her off so he could get the key fob out of his pocket. He was afraid she might try to come in to the office with him.