what the fluff?

Matthias jumped out of the van, his sneakers crunching on loose gravel. He couldn’t believe he was here. He’d never done anything so grandiose as making a vow never to return, but he’d sure as hell never wanted to come back. The place even smelled the same: the deep green loamy funk of the encircling forests, mingled with the sweetness of the milkweed growing wild at the edge of the motel parking lot.

Karen stood with her back to him, hands on her hips, looking around. Her brother Wes stood right beside her, his hands poked into the front pockets of his jeans.

“What do you say, Karen?” Matthias asked her. “Is it everything you dreamed?”

My unlaced sneakers went slip-slopping down the pavement as I carried the the recycling to the end of the driveway. It had been raining buckets for days, and now the air was cold and fresh, the hanging haze all washed away. The hills stood out sharp and green underneath a pale gray sky.

Someone says his name. They’ve said it several times already. Heron becomes aware of this slowly, like he’s walking out of a fog bank. The world brightens into focus, the conversation with his father dissipates into mist.

The car ride up to the old place was awkward. Aidan had taken a few awkward car rides with his mom during his short lifetime, usually after he had pulled some particularly stupid stunt. But, this wasn’t the memory of his mom that Aidan wanted to hold in his mind’s eye right now: her sitting stiff behind the wheel with her hands clenched at ten and two, and her profile tight with reluctant fury.

Rianne stopped abruptly. Some guy collided with her shoulder and growled, “Learn how to walk, bitch.” He stomped past her: hoodie, beanie, baggy jeans. Could’ve been anybody. Didn’t matter, because Rianne’s best friend Kendra stood by her locker, talking to Hailey Halloway.