January 18, 2008


Elizabeth “Litta’Bit” Hunyh woke up for a second time just before noon, sitting sideways on the couch. She’d been up about an hour before, just long enough to crawl into the living room and turn on the TV before falling heavily asleep again. She woke up suddenly, convinced she’d heard a sound. After a few seconds of listening to the house, she realized that she had dreamt the sound, and was probably home alone. She had the guilty feeling she’d been snoring.

“Jason?” she called, but her mouth was too dry for more than a croak. Litta’Bit licked her lips a few times and thought about getting some water, but just then the kitchen seemed unrealistically far away. The TV was on mute, showing commercials for whatever hypothetical consumer watched TV at noon on a Tuesday.

Litta’Bit fished around in the couch cushions and found her cell phone, a beat-up clam shell with a Chococat sticker that dated to junior high. She called her best friend David Sebastian, for no reason except habit. Almost every day, within minutes of one of them waking up, they were on the phone. They didn’t even realize that they did this every day until the rare occasion, like this morning, when one of them didn’t answer.

Litta’Bit didn’t leave a message; she hung up and immediately called David back. Again, no answer. She closed the phone and sighed…David had been acting weird for two weeks now, ever since Lucas Budd’s arrest, and she was ever so slightly getting tired of it.

She picked up the remote and tried to remember when the local news came on. She wanted to see if there’d be anything about the Budds leaving town, if that was a big enough story to make the news. Did the news come on at eleven? Or noon? Did they even show the news in the middle of the day anymore? The more she thought about it, the more old-fashioned it seemed.

She punched random numbers into the remote until, finally, she found ActionsNews 12. She left the TV on mute, though…no way she was listening to some boring story about the upcoming mayoral race.

Just then Litta’Bit remembered that she had a headache, just under each of her temples. She wondered if she’d taken any aspirin when she’d woken up the first time. Well, even if she had, she could stand to take two more. However, the thought of getting up and trudging upstairs for the pills, seemed worse than just suffering through the dull throb.

It felt like a hangover, but that didn’t make sense. Sure, it had been a late night, but she hadn’t had that much to drink. There was the three glasses of wine at dinner, then the two or three Cape Cods, and while waiting for the cab there was something gross with whiskey in it. Oh, okay, it was a hangover.

On the news, an old man was interviewing another old man about a bribery scandal at a sewage treatment plant run by the city. Or at least, that’s what Litta’Bit figured out from squinting at the silent screen. One of the old men was shaking his head sharply at the reporter, mouthing, “No, no, no…” the way you would to a frustratingly dense child.

The phone rang, and though Litta’Bit knew it was the cordless, she picked up her cell phone out of habit. Luckily, the cordless was sitting on the coffee table, so she didn’t even have to get up.

“’Lo?” Litta’Bit smacked her lips a few times and tried again: “Hello?”

“Hey, it’s me.”

There was a Post-It on the back of the phone, and Litta’Bit peeled it off without taking the phone away from her ear. The note, written in her mother’s cramped and tortured hand, said: Gone to store, lazybones. Be up when I get home.

“Me who?” Litta’Bit asked.


“Oh. Hey. What’s up?” Litta’Bit crumpled up the note, then thought better of it for some reason and smoothed it out. The fake boxer shorts she was wearing had a back pocket, and she put the note back there. She found two dollars in the pocket, which surprised her.

“Nothing.” Emily’s voice sounded odd, like she had just run a great distance. “Alexander’s gone. Lillian, too.”

“Yeah. I know.”

“You do?”

“It’s noon, I figured they’d be gone by now.” Litta’Bit remembered now: she had put two dollars in the pocket to tip the delivery guy a few days ago, but in the end Robert had paid for the food. “You said goodbye for me?”

“I…I actually didn’t even get to see them. They left without me.” Emily’s voice got soft and damp; Litta’Bit wondered if she should comfort her—though friends, they had never been particularly close—but in the time it took her to make up her mind that, yes, she should probably say something, Emily had recovered. “So, I guess we should get together tonight.”

“Me and you?”

“Everybody. The Gang.”

“Oh. Yeah, I guess we should.” Actually, Litta’Bit didn’t know what more could be said…the twins were gone for the summer. It sucked, yeah, but what could they do about it? “I’ll get the phone tree started.”

“The what?” There was a ruffling sound on the other end of the phone. Litta’Bit guessed that Emily was wiping her eyes or her nose.

“The phone tree? Like, instead of you calling everyone, you call me, I call Robert, he calls Andre, Andre calls whoever-the-fuck. Well, okay, that’s more of a phone chain, actually. In a phone tree each of us call two people, but you get the idea. I don’t know, maybe it’s a Vietnamese thing.”

“Wait…so you’ll call Robert?”

“If I have to. (Joke.) And I’ll get him to call Andre.”

“I’ll call Michael,” Emily said. “Oh, and I guess one of us should call David, tell him we’re coming over.”

“I just tried calling him. No answer, but I’ll try again.” Suddenly on the TV was a shaky shot of the Budds’ house. The garage door was closing slowly and the Budds’ sedan was pulling out of the driveway. It was over before Litta’Bit even registered what she was seeing. She started to say something to Emily, but instead she thought better of it and asked what time they should get together.

“I don’t know…seven? Does it matter? It’s not like any of us have any obligations.”

Litta’Bit chuckled a little. “Well, who knows how Michael spends his time.”

“That’s true. Okay, so…wait, are we forgetting anyone? I’m calling you and Michael, you’re calling Robert and David, Robert’s calling Andre. Is that nine people?”

Litta’Bit turned the TV off. “The twins are gone, that’s seven. Let’s see: me, you, David, Andre, Michael, Robert…”

“Oh! Josephine, duh.”

“Oh yeah. I’ll make Andre do it.”

On the other end, Emily sniffled. “You’re evil.”

“You love it.”

You have two new messages.

First new message, received on Monday, June 4 at 12:16 pm: “David, It’s Litta’Bit…answer your fucking phone, you homo. Look, The Gang’s coming over tonight around seven to talk about everything, so try to pull yourself together. Blow your nose, wipe the mascara off your cheeks, whatever. Call me.”

Press 1 to save the message, 2 to forwar-


Message deleted. Second new message, received on Monday, June 4 at 12:23 pm: “Hey, it’s me again. Look, everything’s going to be fine, alright? I’m worried about you, so call me back, okay? I love you, and things will be fine, I promise…”

Press 1 to-


Message saved.

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