My eyes land on Jeanine Bennet, who smiles at me and gives a little wave. Goddamn. Jeanine’s one of the women that continues to get more attractive with age. She’s had a couple kids, a couple divorces, some crooked contractors blew up her fucking house last year and none of it matters. Jeanine persists. She’s rocking an old pair of jeans today. She’s stuffing her lunch a bit, seams of her jeans are working for their bread. I love it.

Not like I lust after Jeanine. Merrin lost all her baby weight and then some. Now she looks like an adolescent boy just returned home after a long, bloody civil war. It’s not really a look that inspires desire.

I realize that Jeanine isn’t caucasian, she must be Middle Eastern or Latina. Then her eyebrows pop up, as if a question and all at once it hits me that she’s giving me a WTF look. I’ve been staring at her, she’s noticed. I laugh, shake my head, twirl an index finger at my temple. She nods, laughs.

Shit, that was a good save. I look down at the ground, I’m kicking the same collection of knobby twigs. They look like old finger bones.

The crunch of Merrin’s wheels are behind me. Then they stop. I turn around. Merrin’s right beside me, staring at me.

—Did you hear me, Theo? She says.

—Obviously, I didn’t, Merrin. I wouldn’t ignore you.

—Well, maybe if you’re done with your little moment now, you can help me.

Technically, this might be a lie. I would ignore her intentionally, and in fact, do on a regular basis. If she didn’t talk to me like this, it’d be harder for me to justify.

—Why don’t you let me carry Brixton?

—So, you did hear me. Why are you like that?

I go for Brixton. —I’ll do it, she snaps, pushing past me. Merrin gingerly lifts Brixton out of the stroller and bounces him on her hip. He stares off into oblivion.