Lynn showed up in Lynn. I got the call from Mom, who seemed to think the whole thing was funny, and seemed to think it was even funnier when I didn’t.
“You know your sister,” she kept insisting.
A long exhale when I didn’t respond. A sigh or cigarette smoke—I could see her smile faltering and then picking itself back up.
I leave work early and sit in traffic on 1A like a fucking idiot for over an hour. I think about what I’m going to say to her.
This is the last time, Lynn. You know better than this. You can call Mom and she can figure out how you’re going to get back. I’m not doing this anymore.
A car merges into my lane without signaling. I honk long after it is out of sight.
I don’t care about you enough anymore. I barely know you. You want me to barely know you. I’m not going to do things like this for you.
She’s standing in the park by the water. Her face is red, and she’s smiling. She waves when she sees my car, and starts running toward me. I’m not in even in park yet when she’s pulling at the back door of the sedan.
I hesitate over the lock. She’s laughing and pulling at it with all her might. With her other hand she starts slapping at the passenger window.
I sigh and press the button.
“Hi,” she says. She yawns and flops down in the back seat.
She lies there for a minute before popping back up.
She’s still laughing, but it’s softer. She pulls a hand out of her sweatshirt sleeve and covers her mouth. It’s gone purple.
She blows a few times and tries to catch my eye on the rearview mirror.
“Let’s go?” she prompts, squinting at me.
I clunk the car into park, and throw up the E-break. I twist the keys back, and the engine dies out. An SUV passes us, giving the car a final shake.
“Where do you want me to take you?” I say finally.
“Mom’s house,” Lynn says from behind her cupped hands, blowing on them.
“Why?” I lean back over the seat and catch her eyes. She is kneeling now, her hands folded in front of her face. She could be begging.
“What do you mean, why?” Her tone dips. Her squint is more severe.
“You hate it there.”
She doesn’t respond. Her hands drop, and she shoves them into her armpits, crossing her arms as she does so.
Arms crossed and pouting. She is such a fucking child.
“I do not,” she whines. She turns her head toward the window and looks out at the water.
I don’t feel like saying anything else. She sighs a few times. Traffic steadily passes us, and I look out at the waves too.
After a while, the rise and fall of the water begins to sound like a box truck idling.
“Can we go,” Lynn says, devoid of any question.
“I don’t want to take you there.”
Lynn whips her head back to me. Her face is still red.
“Because I don’t want to have to pick you up from somewhere else in the middle of the day again. Mom can’t drive, moron. She’s going to call me the next time you change your mind.”
“I didn’t change my mind!” Lynn thumps the seat with her fist.
I immediately frown.
“Don’t fuck up my car because you fucked up. If it weren’t for this car, you’d still be out there, in the middle of fucking winter. Standing like an idiot out in the park, hoping that someone cares about you enough to come get you.”
Lynn sighs, and turns her head again. I know she’s crying. At least she’s hearing me.
“I keep saying it’s the last time, and I mean it. I’m tired of this. I literally only ever see you when you need something. You don’t know a goddamn thing about me anymore.”
“I’m your sister,” Lynn chokes out.
I want to say more. I turn around and put my hand on the keys. I don’t turn them.
I watch the cars roll by. I start looking at the license plates. Massachusetts. Massachusetts. Maine. Massachusetts. I find myself feeling totally and wholly bored. I clench the steering wheel and release.
“I didn’t change my mind,” Lynn says again.
“He dumped me. He dumped me like two days after I got here. I told him I didn’t have any money and he got mad.”
“Okay,” I say. I’m just clenching and releasing. I’m trying to make out what kind of car is at the stop sign ahead.
“I really thought he would fall in love with me. He called me like every night for five weeks, Cate. He’s a dick. I didn’t know he was a dick, or I wouldn’t have come. I’m not stupid.”
“It’s stupid to move in with a guy you’ve only known for five weeks.”
“It is,” I urge.
“I know! I know that. I’m not stupid!”
I turn around again.
“Then why do you keep doing it?”
“Did Mom tell you that she took my paycheck for the lights last month? Did she?”
“You live in her house for free,” I say, rolling my eyes.
“I was going to use that money to get my own place. Kim broke up with her boyfriend and needs a roommate. And now I’m at zero again. I’m always going to be at zero. I just need my own money.”
“How much did it cost you to get to Lynn?”
“Nothing! He picked me up. I didn’t want to ask him to give me a ride back after he dumped me. That would have been weird.”
“But it isn’t weird to ask me? It isn’t weird to make me leave my job, which pays my bills, early? It isn’t weird that not once in the past few months have you even sent me a text, and now I’m bailing you out?”
She cuts me off.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I can’t be as good as you, Cate. We can’t all be as good as you. I fuck up. I’m the first to admit it.”
“Stop,” I say, rolling my eyes and now looking out at the water myself.
“Don’t you think I’m embarrassed? Don’t you think I’m mad too—at myself?”
“Not mad enough,” I mutter.
“I just want it to work.”
She balls her fists up and puts them to her temples. Her scowl has fallen. Her mouth is in a straight line—a stick figure drawing.
“I just want to make things work for me. I don’t want to have to wait anymore. I can’t wait anymore. You don’t get it.”
“You don’t get it because it worked for you. I fucked up once and now I feel like I’m going to fuck up forever. Every time I see a light it’s like—“
She takes a breath. She doesn’t continue.
“Sometimes you just need to wait.”
She shakes her head.
“I can’t wait anymore.”
I let out the beginning of a laugh, but stop myself. We both are looking out the window.
She reaches into the kangaroo pocket of the sweatshirt, and pulls out a piece of concrete. She holds it up in my sight line.
“Look,” she says.
“It’s a piece of his house. It fell off when I slammed the door.”
I laugh for real this time. She laughs too. We don’t seem to be laughing about the same thing.
“Why did you take it?”
“I wanted to remember how I felt.”
“You couldn’t just…remember it?”
She shakes her head, and holds the piece of concrete closer to her.
“When he broke up with me, it was like. Fuck. Just…fuck. It’s over. Everything is over now.”
“Everything isn’t over, Lynn.”
“It is.” She puts the concrete back in her pocket.
“I’m literally here to take you home.”
She shakes her head again.
“That’s not what I mean.”
“Okay. What then?”
“I knew Mom would call you, you’re right. And I knew that I would be right back there again, and that I would be doing this all over. I don’t want to. I don’t want to do this.”
“And do what? Sit at home with Mom, work some shifts at the gas station—spend more money on lunch than I make in an hour? Go to bed in the same room I’ve had since fucking middle school and hope that some day, I’ll just make it? I’ll just do everything I want to?”
“What is it that you want to do?”
“Anything,” she says, and pulls out the concrete chunk again. She looks at it for a moment without blinking.
“I want to kill him,” she says.
“I do. I want to kill him, and Tyler, and Zach, Ben—Kurt. God, I want to kill Kurt.”
“Okay—so you kill them. Then what? Jail is a lot worse than Mom’s house.”
“Then I run away to Canada. I hitchhike up through Maine. Run across the border when the guards aren’t looking. Meet a trucker who takes me to Vancouver. Then I stow away on a ship and sail down to South America. Get off in Chile.”
“You failed Spanish 2, right?”
“I won’t need to speak Spanish. I’ll meet a cute guy and we’ll speak with our bodies. I’ll seduce him. Convince him to marry me.”
“And after two days, he’ll kick you out when he finds out you have no money.”
“No, you see.”
She holds up the concrete.
“This will be worth millions to true crime fans—an object from Lynn the Serial Killer. I’ll make a fake account on Ebay and list it, make enough to live in Chile forever.”
“They’d extradite you.”
“The Nazis lived down there just fine for years. It’s true, Zach told me that.”
“Oh, well at least Zach will have died giving you some fun facts.”
“Yeah, I’ll owe him one.”
She smiles, and pockets the concrete. I catch sight of the back of her hand. It’s covered in tiny scabs that she’s picked at. I can see the scratch marks around them.
“What happened,” I say, pointing.
She shoves her hand back in her sleeve.
“Waiting,” she says.
The waves outside seem to be getting higher. We’ve been here long enough for the tide to turn.
“Can you take me to Kim’s place?” she asks, into the collar of her sweatshirt.
“Yeah. I don’t have any money, but maybe she’ll let me crash there for a while anyway. She’ll at least let me sleep over through the weekend. It’s close enough to Mom’s that I can find my way back whenever she makes me leave.”
I take a deep breath.
“Yeah. Yeah, I can do that.”
“Sit up in the front, would you? I’m not a goddamn taxi.”
“Okay,” she says, and grabs the door handle. A burst of cold salt air fills the car as she transfers from the back to the front.
“Say bye to Lynn, Lynn,” I say as I turn the keys.
She rolls her eyes, and smiles. The water dips up and down beyond shoulder as I drive toward the U-turn to head south.
We spoke long enough that traffic had cleared. The gray clouds blocking the sun have turned blue. We pass the sign announcing Kim’s town, and Lynn starts to give me directions.
“Left here,” she says. She sounds confident. I notice because I don’t usually hear her so assured.
I take the left, and then dutifully turn right on a red, right onto another main street, merge at the yield sign. I just let her talk.
“Oh, you can stop here,” she says, gesturing toward the side of a three-way intersection.
I slow, and pull over, looking around at the houses. None of them seem to belong to the Kim I know.
“She lives here?”
“Oh, no, she’s a few minutes away, but it’s a bitch to get out of her complex’s driveway. And you’re already kind of far from the highway. So don’t worry, I’ll just walk.”
“It’s cold,” I say.
“Yeah,” she says. “I need to dress warmer.”
She unbuckles her seat belt, and leans in to give me a hug.
“Thanks, Cate. I’m sorry. I really am. This is it, I promise.”
I make a noise.
“No promises,” I mutter.
I hug her back.
“Love you,” she says, and slides out of the car.
I nod, and give her a smile as she jogs to the left.
I pull out my phone, and type in my address. Mom has texted me a few times, concerned but not concerned enough. Asking if I found Lynn, asking if I am on my way back. I turn on the map, and see my battery is low.
I throw open the center console to dig for my charger. Too dark. I flip on the overhead light. Old CDs cover the top layer of the console, and I scoop them up to throw them into the backseat.
I sigh. She’s left that stupid piece of concrete back there.
I put the CDs down and pick it up. It’s just a stupid slab of shit. It’s dirty, like maybe it didn’t really fall off the house, maybe she just saw it outside on her way out. Maybe she just picked it up in the park while she was waiting for me.
I look out the window, to see if I can still see her. She’s rounded the corner. Well, maybe I should just drive down to Kim’s anyway. Make sure she gets there and hand it off to her.
But I don’t know where Kim lives. She hasn’t told me. She hasn’t told me anything, really. I guess I could look for it. Maybe she texted it to me once, or Mom. I could call Mom and ask.
I click off the overhead light and watch headlights approach me from behind, coming closer and closer, cresting and then falling into the night.