Crystal slid the stack of Monopoly money to the side and watched it flutter to the floor before lifting the small decorative box into her lap. She used the first finger of each hand to gently raise the lid, and was crestfallen to see that her stash was critically low. She dug around in the crumpled throw blanket next to her on the couch for her phone and frantically texted Sheep, her dealer.
Are you holding?
Sixteen minutes later, she realized that she was still staring at her phone, waiting for a reply that was possibly not forthcoming. The phone bounced back into the labyrinthine folds of the blanket when it slipped from her hand.
Outside, a backfire sounded from a car muffler long past its prime. Crystal leaped from the couch and yanked the curtains out of her way to peer outside. Yes. Darryl was home from visiting his mother. She dropped the curtain and ran out, letting the screen door bang closed behind her.
He turned at the noise, but readily opened his arms when he saw the smile on Crystal’s face. Darryl wrapped her in a bear hug and spun around twice while her feet kicked out behind her.
“I missed you, girl,” he mumbled into her curls.
“I missed you, too,” she replied. “How’s your mom doing?”
Darryl put her back on the ground and ran his hands down her arms. “She didn’t remember me the whole time I was there. Which is just as well, I guess, since I never did amount to much in her book.” He shrugged. “Good to see my sisters though.”
Crystal rolled a pebble around in a circle on the driveway underneath her shoe, unsure of how to respond. She looked up to meet his gaze. “I did miss you, you know.”
“I know. Hey, I brought you something back. Hold on,” he trailed off as he ducked back into the car to rummage around in the floorboard covered with empty 20 ounce bottles and Grizzly tins. “Here it is!” Darryl emerged triumphant, a small leather pouch in hand.
“What is it?” Crystal asked. “I mean, you didn’t have to get me anything.”
Darryl laughed. “Just open it.”
Crystal pulled the mouth of the bag open and poured the contents into her palm. “Seeds?” She looked up, confused. “What kind of seeds? They look like apple seeds.”
“They are apple seeds! I remembered that time you told me how you always wanted an orchard. Well, now you can start one. A small one, anyway.” Darryl reached out and carefully helped Crystal return the seeds to their pouch without losing a single one.
“I’m not so sure I’m cut out for that, Darryl,” she started.
“I think you are. Here, put them in your pocket and help me unpack. I haven’t seen you in a week, and we need to catch up. What have I missed around here?” Darryl took her hand and filled it with the first bag from the trunk.