Wednesday, December 13, 2006

This Year, Summer Ended in July.

note: in the hard copy, i included the lyrics to the song mentioned in the story. if you want to find the lyrics, just type "misery signals lyrics" in your browser bar. it should come up on this is the whole thing minus the smashing cover page. sorry about the formatting inconsistencies - i'm leaving it however it dragged into this box. heart you guys<3 class="MsoNormal"> This Year, Summer Ended in July. by lindsey thayer

I awoke to the sound of a soft metallic click. When I pried open my eyes the blurry numbers on Jordan’s digital clock read 5:39pm. I raised myself up off the couch and leaned on my elbows, slowly surveying the small room. Harvey was splayed over the la-z-boy. His shirt was off, crumpled on the floor, and his hair glistened in the dim light that crept out around the blinds over the eastern window. Must have been Jordan closing a door in the back room. Leave it to Jordan to wake me up in the early hours by taking a piss.

“Live Free or Die,” read the license plate of the swerving chunk of fiberglass that nearly clipped my front bumper.

Screwing an impassioned slogan onto your glorified 100mph coffin doesn’t make you a free man. Fucking materialist. I hoped with every taut muscle in my upper body that the guy’s transmission would fall right out the bottom of his Corvette, and he would die in a blaze of Red Asphalt glory. I hate sports cars. I hate the smell and the flashy colors and the rubber they leave behind on the pavement in Edgerton. The world would be a better place if we didn’t leave the bored, incapable rich hoards to their own devices. Those same devices come back around and catch our asses in their eager gears.

“Friggin Corv–”

“Don’t get so fucking mad when you drive, Brett. It pisses me off.” Jordan grumbled behind his egg and cheese biscuit. His legs were so long that his knees were up against the dashboard. Even with the seat pushed all the way back, his 6’4 frame hunched and bent at odd angles in my mid-sized truck. He looked like a sea crab, all limbs, stuffed into a small pot, squirming around.

“Listening to your face in the morning pisses me off. Shut up and stop dropping crumbs on my front seat.” I shot a sidelong glare in his direction without taking my eyes off the road for more than a second. “You can’t drive any better, you pedestrian.”

“Fung meh,” he cussed around a mouthful of half-chewed breakfast.

“That’s right, fuck you.” I screwed up my face and poked at the eye-boogers accumulating in the corners of my eyes. They were black and ugly with the remnants of last night’s eyeliner. “I don’t know why the hell we decided to do this so early.” We had crashed just four hours ago at his place, and it was now 7:12am. There’s not much that irks me more than being interrupted from my drooling sleep by an idiotic plan. Except for ground up biscuit in my truck’s upholstery.

“Grrl, be migh. Oo nee uh bwe-er apipooh.” He wrinkled his forehead in irritation, and then looked down, brushing crumbs off the lapel of his thrift store suit jacket with his long artistic fingers.

I forced out a “huh,” shaking my head at how ridiculous he sounded. “I’m not nice in the morning. Deal with my attitude. I’m driving.” I’d been with the same band for a couple years now, and we all practically cohabited, sleeping around at each others’ apartments on couches and futons. I’d even been on the road with them, four huge guys and me, crammed into a van towing a trailer of our instruments and sound equipment. We’d spent so much time together that I could understand them even if they broke all their teeth and swallowed half their tongues. Sometimes I wish they would. I’m not a morning person.

Harvey let out a groan from the back seat. His head rolled back and forth in my rearview with the rhythm of the truck, and he smacked his mouth open and shut a few times. He was probably dreaming about Jordan’s breakfast in his shallow doze. Either that or his shaggy hair had poked him in the eye. When we woke him up in the morning he was still draped sideways over the arm of Jordon’s chair, his lithe drummer’s frame contorted awkwardly, and I didn’t blame him for being discontented by the early awakening. He looked dirty and pale, like he hadn’t slept at all. I bet we all looked like that. Band life doesn’t afford much beauty sleep.

I pulled through the gate at the back of the complex where we rented a sound-proofed garage for band practices, and hit the gutter at an odd angle, rocking my truck’s solid frame back and forth hard enough to click the rearview mirror’s dangling skull ornament against the windshield and crack Harvey’s ear into the window.

“Frigger!” Harvey shouted, and Jordan cackled, partially choking on his biscuit.

“Shut up, it’s too early to deal with your shit. Why did we decide to drive two blocks? We’re wasting gas.” I jammed my truck into park next to Shane’s truck. “Did Shane spend the night here? I thought he had plans with Angelica or something.”

“Still jealous?” Jordan thumped his chest and coughed. I bristled. “I know you know they broke up last June. I don’t think they’d be having ‘plans’,” Jordan rolled his eyes. Maybe I was still jealous. Five weeks ago, forehead knit into thick lines, sitting in the bed of my truck under the stars, Shane had explained that he was attracted to me but we couldn’t be together. He still had feelings for his ex. I stuffed my own feelings down. Screw attraction. There’s only room for complicated relationships and emotions as the creative fodder for pop-punk, and there were already way too many angst-filled adolescent bands here in Edgerton. Rich kids had nothing else to do when their parents were off driving their turbo caskets. Plus, you just don’t mess around with the band. That’s my rule. Sometimes it’s hard to keep things platonic, but survival is its own lover. Rock hard, or go home.

“He still loved her. The guy was completely whipped.” Harvey’s voice was gravelly and deep. In the rearview, he was rubbing his ear, one eye scrunched up, his nose wrinkled. He was one of the most attractive guys in the band, with a strong jaw and intense, light blue eyes – striking with his dark, tousled hair. Jordan sat up straight and licked his fingers and Harvey leaned forward between the two front seats. He tugged idly on a loose strand of my blonde hair. I swatted his hand away.

“Did it rain last night? Everything’s wet.” I pulled my keys out of the ignition and swung my left leg out onto the runner of the truck. I looked down at the wet pavement. Mud had been washed out of the new planters to the left of the parking lot. It squished up around my shoes when I stepped down, and I sighed, ticked off that we’d have to clean our shoes before getting back into the truck. While I have a love-hate relationship with California rain, I just hate the development that’s turning Edgerton into a housing tract and shopping center nightmare. Trying to trap the desert soil into little cement planters behind curbs really was an enterprise for idiots, like underwater basket weaving, or musical chairs-style high school dating escapades. It left everything messy. Including my shoes, damnit.

My pocket started vibrating as we walked the few steps to the garage door. I fumbled the flip top and pushed the green button.

“Brett? It’s Ethan.” Our other lead singer was on the other side of the country in New York City trying to negotiate a record deal with a pretty well known label. “I haven’t been able to get through to Shane. I was wondering if he was with you?” A strange apprehension crept from my toes up to my shoulders and formed a knot of tension. His voice sounded strained, but maybe it was just the bad quality of my thrashed phone.

“What? He always has his phone on. He’s in the garage, and I bet he’s just got the volume up so he can’t hear you. We’re here right now, gotta get in this last practice bef–”

“No, I’ve been calling him all morning since I got up. He left a message in my voicemail around 3am your time. It was short. He said he was about to meet up with Angelica, and I heard Misery Signals in on his stereo, so I was worried. It’s been a little over a year. You know how he gets.”

“Mmm.” I did know. And I still loved him. He was everything I wanted, everything I thought I needed, and now he was everything I despised about myself and the world, neatly packaged in a hot blonde surfer’s body. Shane and I had spent all that year together after his breakup, except that our relationship fell apart when he told me he still loved Angelica. He listened to the band Misery Signals a lot, the song “The Year Summer Ended in June” repeating in his CD player. I still had a bitter mix of feelings about the whole situation, but I did worry about Shane because he usually got pretty moody and depressed when he resorted to listening to Misery Signals. Anniversaries aren’t always cheerful. Sometimes they lead to alcoholic self-medication. “Ethan, I’ll let you know what happens. Lemme call you back, we’re going into the garage. TTYL sucka.”

“Later, babe.”

I slipped the phone into my pocket as Jordan pulled up the garage door. It slid up a couple feet, and then jammed.

“What the fuck, man. This door is so jacked.” Jordan cussed and rattled the door forcefully. He bent his knees and heaved, but the door didn’t move. “Something must be stuck in the track. Shane! You in there? Open the damn door!”

“Dude, I’ll just crawl under. Maybe he’s got the headphones on.” I crouched down awkwardly and tried to look under the door, but there was only darkness. My eyes just hadn’t adjusted yet; it was pretty bright outside. I shimmied under, trying to keep my knees out of the mud. My hands were a lost cause. It seemed like some of the mud had gotten under the door and into the garage. “Shane?” I blinked and rubbed my hands together, straightening up. “Shane,” I called louder, insistently. I hunched my shoulders, expecting him to jump out and yell something startling. I blinked a few more times, and my eyes dilated in the weak light. I took a step forward onto the carpet and bumped into something bulky.

Shane’s limp body hung from a thick strap that was stuck over the track of the garage door. His beautiful hazel eyes were bloodshot, open and staring, and his face was discolored even in the low lighting. His neck was purple and dark. The garage began to spin and I tripped backward over the edge of the carpet.

Suddenly Jordan was wrapping his arms around me, and the rushing noise in my head gave way to voice his yelling “Brett! Stop screaming! Brett!” Harvey shot in under the door and was trying to hold Shane up by the legs. “Harvey he’s dead, stop, leave him, we need to call the police, or an ambulance – oh god – don’t look at his face.” Jordan covered my eyes with his large hand. I heard Harvey punching the numbers out on his phone. My whole body felt cold. I gripped Jordan’s arms, slowly peeling them away from my body.

Harvey flicked on the lights, and in an instant, I was a stoic. My unrequited love, my beautiful blonde bassist, hung dead before me. I took in all the details of the scene. The garage looked all as it should be; nothing was out of place further into the room. The only thing different was Shane’s bass amp cab, which was overturned under his hanging feet. His neck was caught in the strap of the bass, which hung behind him. Nothing else looked like there had been a struggle. Shane, why would you do it? My chest was a black hole, straining against the gravity of loss and bafflement.

Harvey put the phone aside. “Fucking ironic. He strangled in his own strap.” He jammed his fists into the pockets of his jeans and leaned against the garage door. “They said to wait here, and not to move anything. Fucking loser, strangled in his own str–” his voice broke and he started crying, his body wracked with sobs. I slipped my arms around his waist and he clung to me, wetting my hair with tears. Jordan was in the corner still. He had his phone to his ear and was brokenly telling Ethan that Shane was dead.

The police had come, escorting an ambulance into the parking lot of the garages. There was no one around on Friday morning. No one stood witness to the glory of gleaming chrome on the black and white cruisers, and no one appreciated the parade of lights flashing despite the sharp daytime glare of the sun. The three of us huddled together, chilled despite the increasing desert temperature, because Shane was dead. Harvey had his arms around me. I only let him because I figured it was more for his comfort than for mine. Jordan watched the proceedings like a hawk, alert, tense, every once in a while trembling in his jacket. I felt like I’d swallowed liquid lead, and it had hardened in my stomach and intestines. I stood like a statue. I stared at the garage. Then I opened and closed my clenched jaw a few times to prepare myself.

“It was murder.” It came out as a whisper, but solid, unhesitating, uncompromising. Harvey started and dropped his arms, and Jordan laughed bitterly. I crossed my arms against my chest and fixed my eyes on Jordan.

“He killed himself, Brett. Suicide. Being in love with him won’t bring him back.” He turned his head away. His suit jacket looked rumpled. He was a crumpled sheet of grey paper, disenchanted and defeated. “I’m sorry; I don’t know why I said that. I can’t believe he killed himself, but that’s what it looks like.” He kicked the mud and said somberly, “He should have talked to us.”

A short police officer approached us, interrupting, a pad and pen in his hands. “We didn’t find a suicide note, but there doesn’t seem to be any indication that there was any foul play. His parents have been contacted. Do you three have any information about his habits, or what might have driven him to suicide?” We three stared down at him. He was loud, offensive in the hush of the scene. I found myself balling my fists at his clipped, brusque manner of speaking. I wanted to sock him in the face. Harvey grabbed my hand. The gesture surprised me into silence.

Jordan answered, “He was a good guy. He was still dealing with his ex girlfriend. He really liked her, but they broke up about a year ago. She was kindof dating some other guys, and they might have met up last night. He gets upset about that.”

“Yeah, you should talk to Ethan about it. He’s the other singer in our band. They’re best friends, and Shane left a message with him or something, but he’s in New York until Wednesday.” Harvey’s lips were taught. I looked up at him. He’s pretty laid back, but underneath the calm exterior there was a seething, dark artistic personality. He was tormented. Passionate. Beautiful. But he needed a shave.

“Wrap it the fuck up. Everybody go home. It’s just another kid got sad about life an’ went nuts. We’re taking the body down. I want everyone off the scene in 15.” The police sergeant of Edgerton was a skinny prick in a suit. Of course the Edgerton police were excited about anything going on in town that wasn’t a traffic violation. Extensive building lured in big business, and then people from every other state started moving in to take advantage of suburbia. Then the rich people started showing up, violating traffic laws and paying off the CHP. Now that’s all the cops have to deal with on this side of town: red light runners, California rolling stops, speeding, expired registration. The occasional death of a 24 year old was big news in Edgerton. “We have all of your information. You kids can get out of here.” He waved his spindly arms in exaggerated shooing motions. He already had spreading pit stains, and I hated him.

“Will y–”

“We’ll call you if anything comes up. Coroner’s report, some shit. In the mean time don’t poke around your garage. We put up tape in case it gets more exciting than suicide. Fat chance.” He turned and started barking at the scurrying officers. We watched the scene slowly dissipate.

Jordan jerked a hand through his stylish long hair. He was always stylish, even when someone had died. “If you’re okay to drive, Brett, we could go back to my place, get some food and sleep, process this stuff...”

“Shit, Jordan, food?”

Driving was a blur. The next few hours were like looking at a digital picture too closely: pixilated, warped, gives you a headache. The lucky ones have epileptic seizures and get to take a break from all of the stimulation. The rest of us drink something strong and pop some ibuprofen. It was a hollow ache that nothing touched. It was preserved on a pedestal in my chest cavity, enshrouded in my flesh, veiled, silent but painfully present. I had lost him. I couldn’t even hope that someday he’d figure out that he loved me. No, he was gone forever.

Great time to have an existential crisis, self, I told myself. I sat on the couch by Jordan’s la-z-boy and pushed some chunks of dirt around with my toe. I should spare myself the emotional backwash. Harvey sat down in the chair. He leaned over and held my hand.

“I’m okay.” I jerked my hand away and chewed on the cuticle of my pinky finger. “Do you think it was suicide?” I pushed the blonde out of my eyes and continued to gnaw.

Jordan’s voice floated out of the kitchen with the smell of hot coffee. “He hung himself, Brett. That’s suicide. I mean, he kicked over his amp and died. Joy Division’s singer did it. Crowded House’s drummer did it. Maybe he couldn’t handle the idea of another tour, or signing onto a label, or maybe Angelica didn’t want him back and he went mad. ‘Love will tear us apart,’ you know? Was he listening to Misery Signals again?”

“Yeah, that’s what Ethan said.” We were silent for a few moments. I leaned forward. “Do you think Angelica might have had something to do with it?”

“Brett, you can’t go around blaming everyone for his death, okay?” Jordan poked his head around the corner of the cabinets. “I know we haven’t had time to process this, but that’s not healthy. Here’s the coffee, Harv.” Harvey reached out and grabbed the mug. As he leaned over I looked down and noticed the mud on his shoes.

“I’ll be right back, I need to take a walk.” I stood up abruptly. Harvey started and spilled coffee on his lap.

“I’ll come with y–”

“I need to go alone. My phone is on.”

I walked until I was out of sight of the apartment, and then jogged the two blocks to our garage. Something wasn’t right. I needed to look at the garage again. The police would just write this off as another tragic, emotional suicide, but even if it was, I had to satisfy my own unease.

The garage looked like a date rape victim. Police tape was everywhere, inside out, upside down, no rhyme or reason to its placement. I ducked under the garage door, which was still only open a few feet, and stood in the darkness as my eyes adjusted.

The bass cab was right where it had come to rest. How could he have kicked it over? It would have rolled unless the wheels were locked. Most of the big ones had locking wheels so that they wouldn’t roll around on stage. I bent down and looked, but the locks weren’t on. It should have rolled away, despite the carpet, which was cheap and thin anyway. Someone pushed it over. Maybe it was an accident, but if someone else was there they could have gotten Shane down before he suffocated.

Someone else was in the garage with him. Why did I know this? My eyes bored into the dim light. The garage was sound proof, so if there was an argument or a struggle no one outside would have heard anyway. Most likely there wouldn’t have been witnesses. This area was still developing, and there weren’t any apartments out here yet. With no shopping centers interrupting the swath of weedy field that stretched out to the hills no one had a reason to be out here in time to see suspicious activity. It would be dark at night. Darkness. Shane wouldn’t practice in the dark. He wouldn’t be able to see anything. The light was off when we got here, and it wasn’t on a timer, so someone had to have turned it off on the way out. “There had to be someone here.” My voice in the dim garage startled me.

When did he die? We left him around 3am to go crash at Jordan’s apartment. We found him at about 7:15am. That means that somewhere in that span of four hours he was here in this garage with his killer. Who would have done it? Why? I held my head and shut my eyes, trying to drive away the emotional fog that clouded my thoughts.

I looked down at the mud. If there was mud in the garage, the door had to be open when it was raining. That garage door was a tight fit to keep the sound from escaping. Rain, rain… rain and mud. Wet.

Something clicked in my head. I ducked out of the garage and started running toward the apartment. As I ran I pushed Jordan’s speed dial button on my phone.

I burst into Jordan’s apartment out of breath from my sprint. “Jordan! Jord–”

“–an isn’t here right now. I have to talk to you.” Harvey stood up. He was a full six inches taller than me, which put him at 6’6. He looked huge. I felt small. “Brett,” he sighed, “I’m in love with you, and I have been since last year. Just listen!” I had opened my mouth, but I shut it, still breathing harder than usual, tipping my head sideways with a cocktail of confusion and frustration. He continued, “I didn’t want to tell you because I knew that you and Shane had something going on. I didn’t want it to get complicated, especially since we were on tour.”

I opened and shut my mouth a few times, and then shifted my weight back onto one leg and crossed my arms. “Just, what?” He gave a little half smile. I shook my head. “Harv, I just, I had no idea. But I can’t deal with this right now; I uh, I should find Jordan.”

“Brett, you’re so beautiful. I don’t know what I would do without you.” He stepped toward me. He looked so vulnerable. I’d never heard him this emotional before.

“Did you hear me? Let’s talk about this later, I ought to–”

“I want you to be mine forever.” His eyes got a strange gleam.

“–get back to get our gear and–”

“Now that Shane is gone, it’s just you and me.”

“–then grab… what?” I paused, and drew back from him.

“You and I can be together now that he’s gone. He won’t get in the way. I know he led you on, and Angelica was such a bitch to you, but you don’t have to worry anymore. I won’t do that to you. I have to have you, you don’t know how much I’ve been hurting for so long without you. I know that you love me.” His hand snapped up and closed around my wrist.

Harvey. It was you, wasn’t it.” His face changed instantly. I had wounded him, but his hand tightened on my wrist. “This morning I woke up and looked around, and I thought it was Jordan. But it was you, wasn’t it?” The words poured out in a flood. I was a little unnerved by his grip and proximity. “It rained, and your hair was wet, and there was mud on the carpet. Were you there? Did you see him die?”

“What are you talking about, Brett? The police even said it was suicide. He was emotional.” He pulled me toward him.

“But the light was out, and you know how heavy the amp is, it couldn’t have tipped over like that – it would have rolled, and I mean someone would have had to have shut off the light because it was dark, and if someone else was there he wouldn’t have died.” I was getting nervous, but I had to reign in my fear and stay calm. I didn’t want him to think I was weak.

“It’s sad, but I’m here for you. He was trying out his moves, remember? Last night at the show he fumbled and couldn’t sling his bass around all the way. He probably just put the amp in the wrong place, went to jump off and toss it around, and got stuck. Does that make it better? That it was an accident?” He started to stroke my hair. Shane and Harvey must have used the same deodorant because they smelled a lot alike. On Shane the scent was comforting. Now on Harvey it turned my stomach.

“What do you mean it was an accident? You saw it?” I was trying to disentangle myself from his arms, but he was too strong. “Were you there?” I looked up, searching his eyes. They had the same glazed shining. “Let go of me,” I demanded, setting my jaw. His fingers tangled in the hair at the nape of my neck and pulled my head back. I felt exposed, trapped, defenseless.

“I was there. I left when you guys fell asleep.” He tightened his other arm around my back. “He was at the garage messing around with his stuff. I had to talk to him. I was pissed that he was taking you from me when he still liked Angelica. He didn’t love you like I love you.” Harvey sighed. “When he got stuck I rolled the amp out. I pushed it over to look like he did it on purpose. He looked so stupid, choking on his own strap. But the police will never know. I miss him, but it’s for the best.” He smiled down at me.

I let out a strange, animal-like wail. “You killed him, you killed him, you–”

“Shh,” He took his hand out of my hair and pressed it over my mouth, still gripping me tightly. “Jordan will be back soon. Do you want him to know about us?” I screamed into his hand. “I guess you’re right. He doesn’t like blondes anyway.” He reached over and locked Jordan’s front door.

I was alone with someone who had facilitated Shane’s murder, and now he wanted to keep me with him forever. While his hand was on the deadbolt I blurted out “Fuck you, you monster!” and struggled against him. He threw me onto the la-z-boy. My mind was racing. Where was Jordan? How had Harvey turned into someone I didn’t know in the space of a few days? How had I been oblivious to this the entire time? I struggled to pull the karabiner off of my belt loop. I had a small switchblade that I kept for adverse circumstances, like cutting string or packaging. I didn’t know how the hell I could use it to stop a 6’6 band mate, but it was all I had on me. This would get messy.

“Brett, you’re all I need. When I’m with you I don’t feel so alone. We’re meant to be together. You’re mad right now, but you’ll get over it. He didn’t love you. You’re part of me, and I love you so much I can’t stand the thought of you being with someone else. Tell me you love me.” Harvey moved like a cat and pinned me onto the chair. I was so close. I had the knife in my hand.

“I could never love you,” I spat, “you killer.” He had his knees on my thighs. I thought it might be funny if the chair broke under our weight.

His face hardened. With one smooth motion he grabbed my knife and stabbed it viciously into my side. Searing pain arced through my chest and exploded in my right lung. I’d never trust a left-handed percussionist again. I gasped and bent away from the pressure of his fist against my body. Out of the corner of my eye I saw blood begin to stain the plush chair.

Harvey made a choking, sobbing noise, and said, “If I can’t have you, no one will.” With a grimace he yanked the knife out, climbed backward off the chair and stood, hands held out in front of him, seemingly surprised at his actions. He exhaled and staggered back toward the hallway.

I touched my side in shock. I could die right here, knowing the truth about Shane’s death, and no one else would ever hear it. I blinked. My vision started to fade. Sounds meshed together into a roaring noise. My body felt lighter and lighter. He had stabbed me with my own knife, and with a choked, harsh cough of a laugh, I closed my eyes and lost consciousness.

I awoke to the sound of a soft metallic click. And beeping. There was a beeping noise that jarred me into a shallow unconsciousness. I was peeved. I’m not a morning person. Whose idiotic idea was it to set the alarm to a beeping noise?

“Ungh.” I tried to cuss, but there was something down my throat, taped over my mouth. My eyes were heavy. I felt swollen all over and dense, and it was so bright.

“Brett, you’re alive. Well, shit, I mean you’re awake! It’s Sunday afternoon. I flew back from New York. You lost a lot of blood and Harv punctured your lung but Jordan got you in time.” Ethan’s haggard face appeared in the periphery of my blurred vision. He was holding my right hand. “He killed himself in Jordan’s bathroom. There was a note. He confessed to everything. We didn’t know he was on meds or anything. I’m sorry I didn’t know, or maybe this wouldn’t have happened.”

I shook my head. I felt so weak, and I was angry that they had a tube down my throat. I couldn’t even tell him how ironic it was that I had been stabbed with my own knife. I squeezed his hand. My chest ached, but not the kind of ache I associated with being stabbed. Shane was dead. The words repeated over and over again. A morbid image of his blonde hair spread across the white pillow in a casket floated across my vision. Must have been the morphine.

“Jordo,” Ethan shouted, sending a wave of shooting pain through my forehead, “She’s awake! Pee faster!”

Jordan burst out of the bathroom to the left of my hospital bed, belt unbuckled, hands still dripping from the faucet. He let out a whoop and snatched up my left hand. “You bled all over your truck, and I backed into a Corvette on the way out, but I got you here and you’re not dead!” He grinned from ear to ear, but even if my face wasn’t taped immobile I couldn’t will myself to smile. The sick weight of loss and mourning paralyzed my face.

Leave it to Jordan to wake me up by taking a piss. I turned my head to the side and closed my eyes, slipping back into blissful unconsciousness.

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