The frogs croaked in the creek, behind the house. Alli and Jan sat on the back porch, looking out into the dark yard under the navy-blue sky. Distant stars twinkled, like icebergs on a polar ocean. The lawn was ringed by trees; eventually the land sloped down into the river.
They fanned themselves in the summer heat, sipping iced tea and watching lightning bugs blink in and out of view.
“What made you come back?” Jan asked.
“I got caught in a swirling maelstrom up there. You were right about Dallas.” Alli said.
Jan looked at the woods, that eventually joined the Everglades, “I never meant all the things I said.”
“You were just upset,” Alli said, patting her hand, “We both were.”
“I just couldn’t believe she was taking my place,” Jan shrugged.
“And then she left me too,” Alli said, with a rueful smile.
Jan looked shocked, “For another woman?”
“Yep,” another sheepish grin, “First, she disappeared off to Australia. Never told me if she was ever coming back. Next thing I know, she’s stolen the girlfriend of my friend, Kaan. You remember Kaan? Then, she decamps to Thailand. Haven’t heard from her since.”
“So strange,” Jan said, shaking her head, “You probably weren’t the first one. This other woman – did Dallas leave her also?”
“As far as I know, Aspen went with her to Thailand,” Alli said, looking out into the night, “But Kaan also hasn’t received any news.”
“That’s terrible,” Jan sighed, “They’re out there, of course; they just never deigned to call or write.”
“Not me,” Alli said, “I came back to you.”
“How is your friend Nealy?” Jan wondered.
“Nealy? Nealy went to Shanghai and came back. Now she spends most of her time in San Francisco.”
“So, the old gang’s all over the place,” Jan said, gesturing with her glass.
“Yes, in New York, it’s just Kaan and I.”
“What about these girlfriends from NYU you told me about? The writers?” asked Jan.
“Oh, Beth and Ran? Yes, Ran is great. She’s going to teach me how to surf. We met on a cruise,” Alli explained.
“Well, it’s good to know that you are happy,” Jan said, leaning back in her wicker chair.
Alli frowned, “I worry about whether Ran is happy though. She seems to be going through something with her ex, Karen.”
“I wouldn’t stress about it,” Jan patted Alli’s hand this time, “Just be there for her.”
An owl arose out of the woods at the back of the house. It carried itself out over the river, holding a mouse in its claws.