Durable Goods
next day, Cherylanne and I told everyone how close we came to dying, how we swam out of the clutches of death in the nick of time and if they thought that was easy they were crazy.
    I sit down at Cherylanne’s dresser, barely make out the outline of my head in the mirror. I put my hand out, search for a bottle of her perfume, find one, put some on my wrist. It’s the one that smells like baby powder and has an exclamation after its name, it is so happy about itself. I find her brush, pull it through my hair, see the beautiful blue sparks of electricity fly out. Cherylanne has a pink plastic lipstick holder, swirled with white like marble. It is filled with six tubes of lipstick, all in order according to shade. Barely There is the first one. I feel for the middle one, put some on. I cross one leg over the other, swing it, rub my lips together good. Her jewelry box is on the far right, with her many necklaces and rings and bracelets and pins. I start to reach forthe jewelry box, then stop. I am me and I live next door.
    I want suddenly to be in my own room, with my faded blue sheets, with my cigar box full of dried flowers and horse chestnuts and the fragile bird’s nest I found at the base of a tree. A cat was hanging over that nest, evil coming out its eyes like headlights. I think about writing a note to Cherylanne, but it is too dark and, anyway, what would I say? She will forgive this; we were done with the best part of the sleep-over.
    I tiptoe down the stairs, close the door quietly behind me. The key to our house is under the mat, and I slide it noiselessly into place, let myself in. I feel like a new person in my own living room. Say I were a thief, I think: what would I take? I would want the grandfather clock, the rocking chair. I would want the pillows on the sofa and the sofa, too. I would want the coffee table, the magazines on it, the sweet potato plant my mother started on the kitchen windowsill that now has overtaken the table at the side of the sofa. I would want the curtains, the air conditioner, the radio next to my father’s chair.I would want the floors, the ceiling, the pattern of the shadows made by the setting sun. The Egyptians had a good idea—take it with you. Get buried with all you can, just in case.
    I sit on the sofa, breathe in deep. I am not tired at all. I believe I will stay up all night, something I have never done but have always wanted to do. At some point, day and night are exactly equal. I want to see when it is neither one.
    I do fall asleep, though, because a noise outside wakes me. I sit up straight and extra-alive. There is the screen door, then a slight creak as the front door opens. This is a real thief, and here I am sitting right in his aim. I swallow, bite my lips. “Don’t think about taking anything,” I will say. “I am right here, with a gun.” Then I will yell for my father, loud. I am a little worried about this part. In dreams, whenever I need to yell, nothing comes out.
    But it is only Diane. She is on tiptoe, moving slowly toward the staircase. “Hey, Diane,” I whisper.
    She stops in her tracks, grabs her chest, spins around. “What are you doing?” she asks. “What are you doing?”
    “Shhhhhh!” I say.
    “Never mind! You scared me to death!”
    I shrug. “Sorry.”
    “What are you doing down here?” she whispers.
    “What are you doing?”
    She comes closer, sits down beside me. “Well, what do you think?” She sighs, shakes off the last of her scare. The clock strikes three.
    “I guess you’re sneaking in again,” I say. “You haven’t gotten caught one time.” Three o’clock in the morning, and she’s coming home! You can’t help but admire Diane.
    She leans her head back, undoes her ponytail holder, shakes out her hair, and then looks at me, thinking something over. Then, “I’m just here to pack. I’m leaving again, Katie. I’m not coming back this time.”
    I start to laugh. This is too familiar. And it doesn’t work. “You

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