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“That’s August’s girlfriend,” Wes supplies, slurring slightly. “She’s a ghost.”

“Oh my God, I knew this place was haunted,” Isaiah says. “Wait, the one from the séance? She’s—?”

Someone else leans into the conversation. “Séance?”

“Ghost?” Sara Tonin chimes in from atop the refrigerator.

“Is she hot?” Isaiah’s sister asks.

“She’s not my girlfriend,” August says, waving them off. She points to the phone sticking out of her front pocket. “And she’s not a ghost, she’s just on speaker.”

“Boo,” says Jane’s voice.

“She’s always wearing the exact same thing,” Wes says as he hauls the office chair back, one of the wheels listing pathetically. “That’s ghost behavior if you ask me.”

“If I’m ever a ghost, I hope I get a choice in what I’m cursed to wear for the rest of eternity,” Isaiah says. “Like, do you think it’s just whatever you’re wearing when you die? Or is there an afterlife greatest hits mood board where you get to assemble your own ghost drag?”

“If I get to pick, I want to be wearing, like…” Myla thinks about it for a long second. Her drink sloshes down her arm. “One of those jumpsuits from the end of Mamma Mia. I go to haunt people but it always turns into a musical number. That’s the energy I want to bring to the hereafter.”

“Brocade suit, open jacket, no shirt,” Niko says confidently.

“Wes,” Myla shouts at him as he climbs into the rolling chair, “what would your ghost wear?”

He straps on a pair of ski goggles. “A slanket covered in shrimp chip crumbs.”

“Very Tiny Tim,” Isaiah notes.

“Shut up and throw me across the room, you big bitch.”

Isaiah obliges, and the tournament continues, but he comes back three rounds later, smiling a broad smile, the gap between his two front teeth unfairly charming.

He points at August’s phone. “What’s her name?”

“Jane,” August says.

“Jane,” Isaiah repeats, leaning into August’s boobs to shout at the phone. “Jane! Why aren’t you here at my party?”

“Because she’s a blip in reality from the 1970s bound to the Q and she can’t leave,” Niko supplies.

“What he said,” Jane agrees.

Isaiah ignores them and continues to yell at August’s tits. “Jane! The party’s not over yet! You should come!”

“Man, I’d love to,” Jane says, “I haven’t been to a good party in forever. And I’m pretty sure my birthday is coming up.”

“Your birthday?” Isaiah says. “You’re having a party for that, right? I wanna come.”

“Probably not,” Jane tells him. “I’m sort of—well, my friends are kind of unavailable.”

“That’s such bullshit. Oh my God. You can’t have a birthday and not celebrate it.” Isaiah leans back and addresses the party. “Hey! Hey everybody! Since this is my party, I get to decide what kind of party it is, and I am deciding it’s Jane’s birthday party!”

“I don’t know who Jane is, but okay!” someone yells.

“How soon can you get here, Jane?”


And maybe Isaiah remembers the séance, and maybe he believes what’s happening here, and maybe he sees the panicked look August and Niko exchange, or maybe he’s just drunk. But his grin spreads impossibly wider, and he says, “Actually. Hang on. Everybody, please transfer your drink to an unmarked container, we’re taking it to the subway!”

Isaiah’s friends are nothing if not game—and, in many cases, crossed—so they flow down the stairs and out onto the street like a dam breaking, drinks in the air, caftans and capes and aprons trailing behind them. August is between Lucie and Sara Tonin, carried by the current toward her usual station.

“Which one is he?” Sara is asking Lucie.

Lucie points at Winfield, who’s throwing his head back to laugh, glitter glinting in his beard, looking like the life of the party. She tamps down a smile and says, “That’s him,” and August laughs and wants so badly to know what it feels like to show off the person who’s yours from across the crowd.

Then they all pile onto the train, August up front, pointing to Jane and telling Isaiah, “That’s her,” and she guesses she does know. Maybe what she really wants is to be the person across the crowd who belongs to someone.

“You brought me a party?” Jane asks as the car fills. Niko has already started blasting “Suavamente.”

“Technically, Isaiah brought you a party,” August points out.

But Jane looks around at the dozens of people on the train, painted nails and shrieks of laughter up and down her quiet night, and it’s August, not Isaiah, she looks at when she grins and says, “Thank you.”

Someone places a plastic crown on Jane’s head, and someone else presses a cup into her hand, and she rides on into the night, beaming and proud as a war hero.

Myla’s bag of candy starts making the rounds again—August can’t be sure, but she thinks someone has slipped in some edibles—and at some point, maybe after Isaiah and the Canadian Franzia enthusiast have a dance-off, August gets an idea. She convinces one of Isaiah’s drag daughters to give her the safety pin stuck through their earlobe, and she returns to Jane with it, grabbing her shoulders to catch her balance.

“Hi again,” Jane says, watching as August sticks the pin through the collar of her leather jacket. “What’s this?”

“Something we do in New Orleans,” August says, pulling a dollar out of her pocket and pinning it to Jane’s chest. “Thought you might remember.”

“Oh … oh yeah!” Jane says. “You pin a dollar to somebody’s shirt on their birthday, and when they go out—”

“—everyone who sees it is supposed to add a dollar,” August finishes, and the light of happy recognition in Jane’s eyes is so bright that August surprises herself with her own volume when she yells to the crowd. “Hey! Hey, new party rule! Pin the cash on the birthday girl! Keep it going, tell your friends!”

By the time the train loops back into Brooklyn, there are people swinging from subway poles and a stack of bills stuck through Jane’s safety pin, and August wants to do things she never wants to do. She wants to talk to people, shout through conversations. She wants to dance. She watches Wes as he slowly, warily lets himself slip against Isaiah’s side, and she turns to Jane and does the same. Niko bobs by with his Polaroid camera and snaps a photo of them, and August doesn’t even want to duck away.

Jane looks at her through a dusting of confetti that’s appeared out of nowhere and smiles, and August can’t control her body. She wants to climb up onto a seat, so she does.

“I like being taller than you,” she says to Jane, chewing on a piece of peanut and sesame brittle from Myla’s bag of candy.

“I don’t know,” Jane ribs her. “I don’t think it suits you.”

August swallows. She wants to do something stupid. She’s twenty-three years old, and she’s allowed to do something stupid. She touches the side of Jane’s neck and says, “Did you ever kiss any girls who were taller than you?”