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“Okay,” August says. “I can live with that.”

“Even if I end up leaving?”

“It doesn’t matter,” August says, even though it does. It matters, but it doesn’t make a difference. “Whatever happens, I want you.”

She rises up on her toes and kisses Jane, short, soft, a flashbulb burst, and Jane says, “But in case I do end up staying … you have to teach me about my list.”

August opens her eyes. “Really?”

“I mean, I can’t just jump into the twenty-first century without knowing how the wifey works—”


“See!” She points at August. “Tip of the iceberg, Landry. You’ve got so much to teach me.”

August grins as the train stops at Union Square and commuters start piling off, freeing up a few spaces on the bench. “All right. Sit down. I’ll tell you about the Fast and Furious franchise. That’ll be a good hour.”

Jane does, kicking one foot up and folding her hands behind her head.

“Man,” she says, smiling up at August. “I’m having one hell of a year.”


* * *


August waits until the next day to bring it up.

Sometimes, the process of bringing back Jane’s memories feels mystical and profound, like they’re digging around in invisible magic, pulling up wispy roots. But a lot of the time, it’s this: August shoving a PBR tallboy into a brown paper bag and carrying it down to the subway at one in the afternoon like a lush, hoping the smell of shitty beer will jog something in Jane’s brain.

“Okay, so,” August says when she sits. “I found something out, and I—I didn’t tell you because we weren’t talking, but I need to tell you now, because you need to remember the rest. This might be really big.”

Jane eyes her warily. “Okay…”

“All right, so, um, first let me give you this.” August hands her the beer, shooting a glare at a tourist who looks up from his guidebook to goggle at them. “You don’t have to drink it, but Jerry mentioned that the two of you used to drink them together, so I thought the smell might help.”

“Okay,” Jane says. She cracks the can open. The tourist makes a disapproving noise, and Jane rolls her eyes at him. “You’re gonna see worse things than this on the subway, man.” She turns back to August. “I’m ready.”

August clears her throat. “So … have you ever heard of the New York blackout of 1977? Huge power outage across most of the city?”

“Um … no. No, I guess that was after I got down here. Sounds like hell, though.”

“Yeah, so … you remember Jerry? The cook at Billy’s?”

Jane nods, her mouth quirking in a fond smile. “Yeah.”

“I talked to him about you, and he … um, I think he told me how you got stuck.”

Jane’s been holding the PBR up to her nose to sniff it, but she lowers it at that. “What?”

“Yeah, he—the last time he saw you was your last day in New York. The two of you went to Coney Island and got drunk together, and y’all were waiting for the Q when the blackout happened. He said he never saw or heard from you again. And if that was supposed to be your last day, it would explain why none of your friends looked for you when you disappeared. They basically thought you ghosted them.”

“I thought you said I wasn’t a ghost.”

“No,” August says, biting back a smile, “it’s, like, an expression for when you cut contact with someone without explanation.”

“Oh, so they … they thought I just left without saying goodbye?”

That brings August up short.

She leans in, touches Jane’s knee. “Do you want to take a break?”

“No,” Jane says, shrugging it off. “I’m fine. What’s your question?”

“My question is if you can remember anything else that happened that night.”

Jane squeezes her eyes shut. “I’m—I’m trying.”

“He said he fell on the tracks, and you jumped down to help him back up.”

Her eyes are closed, hand still curled around the beer. Something faint slides over her face.

“I jumped down…” she repeats.

The doors open at a new stop, and a tourist pushes past them, his suitcase slamming into Jane’s knee. Her beer sloshes out of the can and all over the sleeve of her jacket, dripping onto her jeans.

“Hey, asshole, watch where you’re going!” August yells. She reaches out to brush the beer off, but Jane’s eyes have snapped open. “Jane?”

“He spilled a beer,” Jane says. “Jerry. We were … we were drinking Pabst from my backpack on the beach. It was the middle of a heat wave, and he kept giving me shit for carrying my leather jacket around, but I told him he just didn’t understand my devotion to the punk lifestyle, and we laughed. And he…” Her eyes slide shut, like she’s lost in the memory. “Oh man, then a wave knocked him off-balance and he spilled his whole beer, and I told him it was time to get him home before I had to fish his stupid drunk ass out of the Atlantic. We went to catch the Q, and he started throwing up, then he fell on the tracks. I—I remember he was wearing a fucking CCR T-shirt. And I helped him out, but then I—oh. Oh.”

She opens her eyes, looking right back at August.


“I tripped. I dropped my backpack, and every—everything I care about is in here, so I was trying to get it, and I tripped. And I fell. On the third rail. I remember seeing the third rail right in front of my face, and I thought, ‘Fuck, this is it. This is how I die. That’s so fucking stupid.’ And then … there’s nothing.”

She looks scared, like she just lived it all over again.

“You didn’t die.”

“But I should have, right?”

August pushes her glasses up into her hair, rubbing at her eyes, trying to think. “I’m not Myla, but … I think you touched the third rail at the exact moment of the power surge that caused the blackout. It must have been enough of a burst of energy that it did more than kill you. It threw you out of time.”

Jane considers this. “That’s kind of cool, actually.”

August pushes her glasses back down, blinking Jane into focus and checking her face for the warning signs she didn’t pay enough attention to the last time they brought back something big. She doesn’t see any.

She holds a breath. There’s one more thing.

From her pocket, she pulls out the postcard from California. She hands it to Jane, pointing at the signature.

“There’s something else,” August says. “This might sound crazy, but I … I think Augie sent you this. I just don’t understand how. Do you remember it at all?”

She turns it over in her hands, touching the paper like she’s trying to absorb it through her skin.

“He’s alive,” she says slowly. It’s not a recitation of a fact she already knew. It sounds fresh. August has shown this postcard to her a dozen times, but this is the first time she’s looked at it with recognition.

“It came out of nowhere,” Jane says. “I don’t … I don’t even know how he found me. I was fucking terrified when I got it, because I was sure he was dead and I was getting mail from a ghost. I almost didn’t call the number, but I did.”