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Slow, rhythmic breathing, a rustling of sheets, all the sounds of sleep finger through the crack in her door. I hold my breath and skulk through the hall, nearly sprinting by the time I reach the stairs. Outside, I scan the boulevard. Blackened windows gape into the night. A tangible quiet stretches between house and hedge maple and blue garbage bin. I stare at Mrs. Perez’s house before heading to Monty. * I’m panting by the time I slide into the Solara’s passenger seat. “Peach ring?” Monty asks, holding out the bag of candy. I smile and give him my ring finger, and he slides the gummy treat over my knuckle. “I guess it’s official,” he says. We laugh nervously. I palm the candy, feeling the grit of sour sanding between thumb and forefinger. I reach a sugared hand across the center console, which until now has kept us both honest. Fingers lace with mine. “When it finally happens,” Monty says. “Who gets to be the – well, y’know?” I pop the peach ring in my mouth and say, “Me, duh.” “Um,” he says. “I’m taller, so…” “Yeah, until I fold you in half like a lawn chair.” We both go silent for a long moment, then burst into an ugly guffaw. He turns to look at me. Moonlight gilds his skin in hues of indigo and blue, and I understand that I’m looking at the very fingerprint of God. “—Montgomery—?” I say. “Yeah?”

| Author bio | Eric Arroyo is a former journalist who has interviewed key players in the

fashion industry. His writing has appeared in the globally distributed The Impression, as well as a multitude of web and print publications throughout the Northeast. He holds a degree in literature from Bard College, where his academic interests included medieval literature, paleography, and media studies. Arroyo is a prose stylist interested in experimental writing, lyrical form, and genre-bending fiction.

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