Timeline

The order my stories are posted in isn’t exactly… chronological. It’s perfectly fine to start from the first post and read your way to the most recent, but if you do want to read them in the order they occur, here’s the timeline.

Caveats: Dates reflect the date the story starts. Some are weeks or months long. Some wrap around other stories (in these cases, I note when the larger story ends, too). Some have long sections of flashbacks, which are listed separately from the framing narrative. I left out extras like “Ask Me Anything” posts because they jump around way too much. It’s not an exact science, but I’ve tried to make it clear.

Midnight Kisses

November 10, 2006

“Are you certain this invitation wasn’t meant to be politely declined?” Quint asked, quietly, so as not to be overheard by their young hostess, who had taken the bottle of pinot noir to the kitchen to chill. “They are your friends, and there was no need for me to come along simply because I’m staying with you.”

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First Christmas Eve (Flashback)

December 24, 2006

Don’t let anyone ever tell you Christmas in New York is magical. Sure, there’s the humongous tree with the televised lighting ceremony, and the department store windows that get more elaborately beautiful each year, and the Rockettes kicking away at Radio City, but you know what else there is?

Slush. Massive, unavoidable puddles of it.

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Too Close For Comfort

September 3, 2007

Quint realized he had just read the same paragraph three times and still had no idea what it said. Giving up, he put the book down and looked at the clock again. The minute hand had only advanced two dots from the last time he’d looked at it, and now informed him that his partner was officially twenty minutes late for curfew.

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The Meet Cute (Flashback)

June 20, 2008

Life follows a predictable schedule made up of morning yoga and meditation, attending classes, doing homework in studios or at the apartment, cooking dinner when it’s my turn and washing up after when it’s not, Skyping with Zain for as long as he can, spending evenings with Quint and Theo, and then coloring either a mandala or a page of one of my new books before bed.

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Curb The Attitude

February 10, 2009

Don’t get me wrong. I love Quint. When I contemplate being without him (which I don’t do very often), my chest gets really tight and I tend to get clingy with him for a few hours until the feeling goes away. Everything in my life has gotten immeasurably better since he came along.

But sometimes, he is really fuckin’ annoying.

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Matinee

March 15, 2009

In my defense, I hadn’t slept much the night before. I get days every once in a while when I just can’t fall asleep, and I’m always in a bad mood the next day if I miss more than two hours. Usually when I’m like that, Quint will just tell me to go take a nap. This time he decided it would be better if we went to a movie.

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“Biology” is Another Word for Hell

April 14, 2009

One of my favorite musicals, Spring Awakening, has a song in it called Totally Fucked. The opening lines have always struck a chord with me.

There’s a moment you know
you’re fucked
Not an inch more room
to self-destruct

I’m telling you this because I had one of those moments today.

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Watch Your Step

May 12, 2009

“Excuse me! Excuse me! Sorry, coming through!”

I skidded around the corner and weaved through the other students in the crowded hallway. I bumped more than a few with my bag in passing, but I didn’t have time to do more than gasp a breathless “Sorry!” as I dashed past. The clock on the wall was showing that I had two minutes to make it to my class, but I was on the home stretch now.

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Doggone Holidays

November 26, 2009

Starts at Thanksgiving and ends at Christmas

***

“Look, Uncle Theo, it’s Santa!” Lyra cried, bouncing up and down beside me with excitement as the last float of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade rolled into view on the TV screen.

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Give Me The News

December 2, 2009

When Quint came home, I was sitting in front of the computer impatiently reloading Facebook again and again every few seconds. “I know,” I said, without looking at him, “I should be writing papers. But I need to see if they’ve voted yet.”

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Rally Rage

December 3, 2009

We (or rather, Quint) turned down Ike and Zeggy’s invitation to dinner after the rally, and got home at about seven-thirty. Almost as soon as I took my shoes off, Quint said, “I want to discuss that incident.”

‘Discuss.’ Yeah, right.

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To Trust, Cherish, and Honor

December 14, 2009

Quint ambushed me. You can’t blame me for reacting defensively – that’s what you do when you’re ambushed. 

It was my last day of the semester, and my morning final had gone well. We had ice cream for dessert to celebrate, and I was actually in a good mood. Then, just as he started getting ready for bed, he said it.

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Doggone Holidays

December 25, 2009

.

Ends here

To Trust, Cherish, and Honor

December 31, 2009

.

Ends here

Wash & Fold

January 14, 2010

Well I thought it was a brilliant idea. Still do, actually, though I have a feeling that’s going to be changing as soon as Quint calls me out of the corner. I spin my ring around my finger, something I can’t seem to stop doing since I began wearing it a couple of weeks ago.

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Changing Horses Midstream

August 20, 2010

Seb returned from his walk as dusk fell over Solshine Farm. The chickens were clucking and making their way back to the coop while the mother goats nuzzled their sleepy kids. He stopped at the pasture fence to say goodnight to them and enjoy a quiet moment as the breeze whispered and crickets chirped around him.

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You Can Quote Me On That

April 26, 2011

My pencil scratched across the yellow legal pad mutinously, with dark, heavy strokes. Apart from the scratches, the only sound to be heard was Quint occasionally turning a page of his book or Jagger sighing in his sleep. Both of them looked perfectly peaceful over on the couch. Quint was pretending not to notice the attitude of my pencil.

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Unmellow Yellow

May 21, 2012

My eyes were on Zain, not the house, as we pulled into the driveway. I’d sent him pictures, of course, but this was the first time he was seeing it in person. It fell on me to go house-hunting with my parents while he was deployed. I’d had only my gut instinct of his tastes to guide me.

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Graduation Day

May 29, 2012

“Do I have this on backwards? I couldn’t figure out what side the zipper is supposed to go, and there’s no tag.”

Quint, who was standing at the bathroom sink shaving, looked over his shoulder and stopped with half his face still covered in white lather. He didn’t answer me.

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Ceci n’est pas une Pipe

June 23, 2012

Zain doesn’t have the same relationship with his second language that I do with French. For one thing, it truly is a second language for him — he learned it after English, not simultaneously. His parents wanted their kids to fit in as much as possible, so they avoided speaking their mother tongue.

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Share Your Silence and Unpack Your Heart

August 1, 2012

“Honolulu Endocrinology, Sam speaking. How may I help you?”

“Hi. Um, I have an appointment later today, but I need to cancel it.”

“Name?”

“Seb McKenna Crews.”

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When You Whistle Upon a Star

October 18, 2012

Looking up at the blanket of the universe overhead, I let out a sigh of pure contentment. Was there ever going to be a more perfect moment than this, laying on our roof with the sound of waves crashing against our seawall, a gentle ocean breeze blowing, and my boy snuggled up to my side, completely relaxed? I wanted it to last forever. Softly, I started to whistle When You Wish Upon a Star.

Seb smacked me. “Don’t!”

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The Early Bird Special

November 8, 2012

Searching for Seb when I get home is a well-practiced ritual, yet sometimes it surprises even me where I find him. Or what I find him doing.

One day, a few months after the move to Hawaii, I walked up behind him in the back yard, frowning.

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You Are the Moon That Pulls Me Through the Night

January 7, 2013

The meter says I’m fine. I woke up in time, tested, ate the recommended amount of carbs to correct the low, and tested again. Everything textbook, just like the doctors want. Then why can’t I fall asleep now?

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Rub-a-Dub-Dub (Two Guys in a Tub)

February 14, 2013

Zain had brought it out after dinner and set it on the coffee table in front of Seb. It was covered in pink wrapping paper with red doodles of hearts being pierced by arrows. A black ribbon tied around it held the tag in place on top. LUSH, the tag read, and SEXY FUN TIMES over another heart. Seb took one look and said, “But I didn’t get you anything!”

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The Rousing Effects of Coffee

July 6, 2013

I carried my coffee into Seb’s studio, taking sips from the mug as it cooled. My boy stood in front of the easel that held his latest work, a paintbrush hanging loosely from his fingers and bare toes poking out of the bottom of his frayed jeans. Smudges of color decorated his face: blue along his jawline, a dot of yellow on his right temple, gray over the freckles on his nose.

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A Dying Man’s Last Wish

November 11, 2013

“Babe? …Baaaabbe? …BABE!”

“Zain, oh my gods, what now??” Seb asked, storming in from his studio with paint on his chin.

Zain sniffled. He tried to make it sound extra-pathetic. Then he nodded at the remote lying on the coffee table, three feet away. “Can you give me that, please?”

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When You Fall Like a Statue

February 25, 2014

Zain whistled “The Bare Necessities” as he took the final curve before their driveway. If he timed it perfectly, the song would end just as the break in the trees cleared the view to the ocean, stretching out from the low cement wall and strip of rocky beach at the edge of their backyard. He smiled when he saw it.

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Mouse in the House

April 4, 2014

My mom believed strongly that all her kids should be able to cook for themselves. We were her sous-chefs before we could talk, and even Dax can manage a good dinner if he bothers to try. For some things, though, I still need her to walk me through it.

“Now, this next bit is tricky, a leanbh,” she said from the phone. “Are you ready?”

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Theek Pique

August 12, 2014

I hate this. I hate it. I hate it.

“I hate this,” I tell Zain.

He squeezes his arms around me, hugging me tighter to him, and simply says, “I know, habibi.”

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Overtime

September 8, 2014

Quint had been sitting on the couch with a medical journal open in one hand and a pen in the other, underlining and scribbling notes and being generally distracting, since he’d gotten home. He hadn’t even changed out of work clothes yet, just loosened his tie, which made it about ten times worse.

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Hard Choices

September 22, 2014

“Babe?”

Seb froze, his pencil lead barely brushing the paper, listening to the footsteps cross the studio. A moment later, the back door opened and closed. He relaxed. Zain would look for him on the roof or up a tree first. Checking them all would keep him occupied for awhile — perhaps long enough for Seb to pull his thoughts together.

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College Bound

September 29, 2014

Starts in September 2014 and ends in April 2015

***

“Fifteen,” Zain declared.

From the other end of the couch, where he was sitting in half-lotus with his back against the armrest, Seb lowered The Real ACT Prep Guideenough to arch an eyebrow at him. “Is that your final answer?”

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Scrabble: Brat Edition

October 12, 2014

No, I did not get spanked, thank you very much. And I still think it was at least partly Quint’s fault. He knows us shopping together is just asking for trouble. But did that excuse me from going with him to pick out furnishings for the new apartment? Nope.

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A Halloween Tale

October 31, 2014

I can’t imagine any sadder place for a kid to be on Halloween than stuck in a hospital, can you? I think it’s almost worse than being there on Christmas. Family and presents can come to you in most cases, but Halloween is about wearing a costume and going out with your friends and eating tons of candy. Try doing any of that from a sickbed.

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Dress Blues

November 11, 2014

I left my dress blues on, save the shoes, and stretched out across the duvet. It wasn’t the best choice for loungewear, but I got as comfortable as I could, yawning, while I listened to Seb brushing his teeth in the bathroom.

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First Christmas Eve (Frame)

December 24, 2014

Don’t let anyone ever tell you Christmas in New York is magical. Sure, there’s the humongous tree with the televised lighting ceremony, and the department store windows that get more elaborately beautiful each year, and the Rockettes kicking away at Radio City, but you know what else there is?

Slush. Massive, unavoidable puddles of it.

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Screen Time

February 9, 2015

I blame Apple’s obsession with making their devices so intuitive, with the automatic backups and whatnot. Trust me, there is such a thing as being too user-friendly.

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Buzzfeed

March 2, 2015

“Oh oh! Babe, help me find out which Disney heroine I am with this Buzzfeed quiz!”

“Wha? Zain, for serious?”

“For super serious! Here, read out the questions and choices.”

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The Root of The Root

March 27, 2015

I heard it from the top of the staircase: that recording of the pleasant female voice all New Yorkers know so well. “This is a Brooklyn-bound F local train. The next stop is West 4th Street – Washington Square.”

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College Bound

April 19, 2015

.

Ends here

Let Your Heart Be Next To Mine

May 1, 2015

I came up from behind and wrapped my arms around him while he was rinsing off our supper dishes. He shot me a questioning look over his shoulder. Grinning, I slid my hand down, squeezed him gently through his jeans, and watched his fingers fumble on a cup.

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Slippahs

May 31, 2015

The other side of the bed was empty. Zain knew it before he fully awoke. He opened his eyes, sat up, and stretched, yawning hugely. Through the window, the gray, pre-dawn sky hung over the ocean, and silhouetted against both of them, the twisted limbs of Seb’s favorite climbing tree cradled his Brat.

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Love Wins

June 25, 2015

We had been packing for days now. The storage unit we’d rented was filled to capacity with the more valuable and fragile things, and the remaining boxes were piled in one corner of the living room, to be shipped to Santa Cruz tomorrow. The house was a tree in autumn, slowly shedding the leaves of our personal effects and becoming less ours as each one hit the ground.

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Plebe Summer

July 1, 2015

From mid­-April to the end of June, Zain was all over the slightest hint of me withdrawing. I still had time to myself during the day, but the moment he got home he would refuse to be shut out. He has many, many tricks for taking apart, chipping through, climbing over, and openly bulldozing the walls I try to build, and I don’t think there was a single one he didn’t use at some point during that period.

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When Life Leaves You High and Dry

August 31, 2015

“Hey, habibi.”

Zain was smiling, but I frowned. “Why does your voice sound hoarse? Are you coming down with something?” It was only a few days into the school year. I didn’t want him falling behind right from the start.

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Angels and Demons

November 13, 2015

I expected the knock on my office door Friday afternoon to be a colleague bringing a few papers I had requested. My “come in,” however, was answered by Seb peeking around the frame.

“Um, hi.”

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Something To Be Thankful For

November 26, 2015

I never really experienced Thanksgiving before my fifteenth year. My family embraced many aspects of American culture, but somehow, that holiday got left by the wayside, reduced to a day home from school with a moderately-nicer dinner than we’d have usually.

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Bugging Out

December 4, 2015

After the rocky start, I enjoyed working with Theo on his angel. We came up with the basic idea to use medieval illustrations as the inspiration, but modernized to look more like him, with stubble, ruffled feathers, and halo just slightly off-kilter.

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The Trauma of Painting

December 10, 2015

Horrible. Ugly, cumbersome, primitive, just merde. I should’ve taken a knife to it ages ago. Or a match. It would make a better bonfire than it did a painting, that was certain. I couldn’t turn it in as my final piece, but I had no time to make a new one.

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Yuletide Treasure

December 18, 2015

“Mohyeldin.”

I looked up from packing my bag. Platt stood, almost at attention, in my doorway, waiting for my acknowledgement. “Hey!” I said. “Come aboard.”

He stepped into the room and thrust his hand at me. Or, to be more precise, the card envelope in his hand.

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Saved By the Jingle Bells

December 20, 2015

“You can’t spank me, I’m Santa!”

Yes, okay, that sounded ridiculous. But the whole situation was ridiculous. We were only having fun! Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

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Winter Break

December 26, 2015

Sitting next to Seb on the floor of a crowded LAX airport terminal with our backs against a concrete block, I started singing under my breath. “Mele Kalikimaka is the thiiing to saaay on a briiight Hawaiian Christmas daaay–

“Zain.”

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And Love Dares You

January 12, 2016

With the start of a new semester came new classes, and I was happy to find out that Platt and I had been scheduled to the same PE section. The kid actually smiled when he saw me in the locker room, too.

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Re: Moving Day and Some Questions About Seb

January 12, 2016

Dear Zain,

How is the return to your studies going? I confess, I’m not overly familiar with the way things work at a military academy. Do you have a major?

I’m afraid I’m writing to you with more purpose than to see how you’re settling back in at school.

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The Day of a Hundred Swats

January 13, 2016

Another one. And this time, Seb’s yelp was audible through the wall. Jagger lifted his head off my legs, cocked his ear in that direction, and whined.

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Two Celebrations and a Trajeudi

February 11, 2016

“Seb! Dinner!”

“I meant to go let him know dinner is ready, angel. I could have yelled across the apartment myself.”

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The Meet Cute (Frame)

February 27, 2016

Life follows a predictable schedule made up of morning yoga and meditation, attending classes, doing homework in studios or at the apartment, cooking dinner when it’s my turn and washing up after when it’s not, Skyping with Zain for as long as he can, spending evenings with Quint and Theo, and then coloring either a mandala or a page of one of my new books before bed.

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Medical Alert

March 7, 2016

On the way out the door, Quint caught me by the shoulder. “Where’s your alert bracelet, mon chaton?”

I looked down at my bare wrist. “Oh, um, in my room.”

“Go get it, please. Hurry up.”

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Roots and Sprouts

March 12, 2016

“I want to do all the cheesy touristy stuff, babe,” I told Seb as we followed Quint and Theo into the subway train car. “Times Square, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, all that.”

He looked askance at me. “Why?”

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Contain Yourself, Quint

March 27, 2016

When I went to collect Seb’s bedding to be washed and found a pile of sketchbooks and other assorted papers scattered over it, I knew something needed to be done.

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For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow (And So Say All of Us)

April 2, 2016

I fed out slack on the rope, watching carefully as Platt pushed off one of the brightly-colored holds on the climbing wall about forty feet above me. He stretched his right hand up as far as he could. His toes barely gripped.

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Les Chatons Roses

April 27, 2016

The pink kitten had lived on a bookcase at first, with bright paper cards propped up around it. The room’s occupant—its new owner—touched it most days during that period. He would move it first behind the cards so it was hidden from view, and then, a few minutes later, back in front of them. Study it. Fiddle with it again. Walk away, only to repeat the process the next day.

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Plebes No More

May 23, 2016

Zain described Herndon as “a bunch of sweaty, shirtless sailors climbing a giant lubed-up phallic symbol.” I had to admit he had a point, even if it’d made Theo choke on his orange juice and Quint’s eyebrow go sky high.

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The Morning After

May 25, 2016

The aroma of freshly-ground coffee dragged Theo out of our bedroom at ten. I took a sip from the mug I had just filled, opened one of the files of papers spread across the dining table in front of me, and began cross-referencing to a spreadsheet I had pulled up on my laptop. “Good morning, angel. There are eggs in the fridge for your breakfast.”

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Holding Pattern

June 23, 2016

“Seb? Theo said you’ve been in here all day. How are you feeling?”

I look up at him with just my eyes. My head stays on my pillow, cheek mashed into it so it hides half my face. “Don’t know.”

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Pride and Panic

June 26, 2016

The morning of the Pride march, I sat Theo and Seb down on the couch and stood in front of them. “Before we leave,” I said, “I’d like to go over ground rules, the first being that you will both stay with me at all times.”

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Driven From Distraction

July 6, 2016

Trembles ran through my legs and arms. Carefully, I turned off the water pouring over my head and stepped out of the shower, into the chilly bathroom. A quietness filled it, broken only by drips falling off me to the floor, like icicles melting. I shivered. Merde, what have I done?

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Trouble in Paradise

July 20, 2016

“Theo! Quint! Over here!”

Quint spotted them first, of course. Being tall gives him an unfair advantage at things like that. It wasn’t hard for me to catch sight of them after he pointed in the right direction, though. Zain was bouncing up and down, and the colorful strands of flowers in Seb’s hand were very eye-catching. We navigated ourselves and our suitcases through the crowd of disembarking tourists to where the younger couple stood near the wall.

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Monkey Business

July 25, 2016

Theo trudged into the great room early one morning near the end of their Hawaiian vacation. Early enough that Zain and Quint had yet to return from their run, amazingly. He found Seb perched on a bar stool in a full lotus pose with his sketchbook open in front of him.

 

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Playing the Birthday Blues

August 3, 2016

It had been a good birthday. But then, why did I need to convince myself of that?

From breakfast this morning—waffles that Quint got up early to make specially, even though he needed to leave for work as soon as he was done and couldn’t enjoy them himself—to the small dinner party that had just started winding down now, everything was great.

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Of Churros and Anger Management

August 15, 2016

Reaching the top of the hill at last, I stopped to squint through branches and leaves at the buildings barely visible on the edges of the park. “Okay,” I said. “That’s the West Side, so we’re definitely going in the right direction.”

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Back to School, Ring the Bell

August 20, 2016

The flight that would bring me back to Annapolis from my last summer training block took off at a tiny regional airport. Four other people sat in the only terminal with me, all of us comfortably absorbed in our phones. One guy was bobbing his head along with music from his earbuds. As for myself, I spent the time catching up on my email.

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The Adventure of Gift-Giving

September 16, 2016

It was going to be a perfect present. Even better than the portrait I commissioned from Seb last year, which trust me, wasn’t easy. Quint loved that thing from the moment I gave it to him, and he loves it more now, I think, because he’s grown to love Seb. But I thought of a way to top it eventually. I had to. It’s not every day that your husband turns fifty. I was so proud of my idea.

Then Quint ruined it.

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Anchors Aweigh

October 1, 2016

The necklace shimmered in the window display, the afternoon sun playing along the length of its gold chain. That wasn’t why it caught Bradley’s eye, though. It was the shape of the opal pendant. An anchor. He stopped on the sidewalk.

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S. trifasciata (or The Cure for a Black Thumb)

October 8, 2016

Seb wiggled to get out of my arms. Assuming he was embarrassed by being held for so long on the sidewalk, with other mids passing us by to start their own liberty, I hugged him tighter. I don’t like him worrying about what people think of us. Plus, it usually makes him squirm against me more, which is not unpleasant.

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Calling the Shots

October 10, 2016

I should have been more suspicious. Every other year, I got my flu vaccination in the clinic near our apartment. I go in, get sprayed in the nose, and walk out ten minutes later. So why, this year, did Quint wait until I came to the hospital with him to volunteer as Jagger’s handler, and then suggest we take care of it before I started for the day?

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Learning the Ropes

October 21, 2016

Justine & Brian Group Text
Friday 19:04

Brian: Meeting rescheduled. Bradley, if you’re done with homework, I have time for a game of pool.

Bradley: Meet you there in five

Justine: Whip his ass for me

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Just Between Us Squirrel Friends…

November 4, 2016

It was one of those days where I met Theo in Washington Square after my classes and sat on a bench sketching passersby while I watched him and Jagger perform until it was time to go home for dinner. I like the diversity of the people who filter through. They give me practice in all different styles and body types. Among the mélange that afternoon, one person stood out.

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A Platt Family Thanksgiving

November 23, 2016

Rain pattered against the bus window in a slow tempo. The rivulets of water blurred my view of the town beyond the glass, but I could make out the wreaths decorating each lamppost. The same wreaths appeared on the same lampposts every year around Christmastime. In another few weeks, lights would be wrapped around the skeletal trees that lined the street. I missed the cheer they brought.

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Merry and Bright

December 23, 2016

I gawked. On either side of me, Mom and Quint gawked, too, only they did it more subtly.

The house—mansion, really—in front of us looked like there had been an explosion in a warehouse full of the most gaudy outdoor Christmas decorations you can imagine, and all the debris had gotten plastered to it.

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The Disney Diaries

January 7, 2017

I sighed and jogged my knee up and down. Slouching in my chair, I stretched my foot out across the aisle until I could poke Seb’s shin with my toes. He looked up from his book, rolled his eyes, and went back to reading. Next to him, Quint was also peacefully absorbed in a book. A voice droned over the PA. Likely announcing the next flight to board. It wouldn’t be ours.

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