Sharon stood, touched her toes, cracked her back. Karen watched, her lips pursed, nose curled. Sharon opened the refrigerator.
'Come on, seriously? Wash your hands or something.'
Sharon grabbed an apple and bit, the crunch cast in the air, the juice on her face. 'You know,' she turned to Karen, gesturing with the apple in hand, 'you forget how good everything feels. Makes you wonder why people bother to die at all.' She burped then laughed.
'You're disgusting.' Karen's face in her palms, not looking at Sharon, clammy sweat on her forehead and neck.
Sharon patted her on the back, 'What's been new with you?'
Karen jerked away, the chair falling over, but she caught the table and steadied herself. Her face pale, eyes glassed, 'You seriously reek. Like, I can't even handle it.'
Sharon bit into the apple, wiped the juice from her lips, and chewed openmouthed, 'Did it always used to be this bright?'
Karen opened the window and covered her nose, 'Not much has changed.
Did you find Duncan?'
Sharon put her feet up on the table, dried mud flaking off. 'No, it's not like what people think it is. People everywhere but real cramped, hard to figure out who's who or where anything is.'
'Sounds like a club.'
Sharon pointed her finger like a gun at Karen and she smiled back.
Sharon belched again, 'How long's it been?'
'Didn't you keep track?'
'My watch stopped.' Sharon lifted her arm, the screen blank.
Karen nodded, then coughed, her face pallid and her shoulders slumped, 'Seriously, Shar, I'm, like, gagging.'
'You don't look so good.'
'Go take a shower.'
Sharon put the applecore on the table, reached for the angel food cake.
'Just brush your teeth.'
'Want some?' Sharon's hands dug into the cake, her eyes on Karen, who dryheaved twice, but did not vomit, and Sharon held her hair back.
Karen pushed her away, her welled eyes stinging from the stench.
'You okay, Kar?'
Karen spit into the sink, gasped, 'Let's talk outside.'
In the courtyard, Sharon cartwheeled and jumped. Karen watched her and fanned her face, the sick sweat mixing with the heat sweat.
'What was it like?'
Sharon plopped onto the ground, her limbs splayed in the grass, 'Boring.'
'Not everything you dreamt it'd be?'
'I guess not.' Sharon rolled onto her stomach, the color returning to her face. 'How long did you say it was?'
'Maybe three months.'
'Give or take a month, maybe.'
'Seemed so much longer.' Sharon rubbed her face into the grass, pulled some out with her teeth.
'Is this how you're going to be from now on?'
'You know, you're a lot more sullen than I remember.'
'And you're a lot more active than I last saw you.'
'A newfound zest for life.'
'Why'd you do it?'
'Why does anyone do it?'
Sharon grinned, eyes wide, holding laughter, 'What a silly reason to die.'
Karen wiped her face, eyebrows arched low, 'So what then?'
'Sands of time.'
Karen rolled her eyes and folded her arms, 'What did you do? You know, besides be bored.'
Sharon's eyebrows furrowed, 'It's weird. It was only this morning but it's already hard to remember any of it, like it was a dream that someone only told me about instead of my own life.'
'Well, not life.'
Sharon sat crosslegged and blew hair from her eyes, brushed clumps of dirt out, 'I came all the way back here and you're kind of being a bitch.'
'You should've told me you were coming.'
They stared at one another, their faces flushed. Sharon's eyes returned from grey to blue and Karen wiped the sweat from her lower back, shifting her weight from left to right.
'It's not like I have a phone.'
Karen sighed, 'No, never mind. But you really should clean up.'
Karen smiled, 'You always were.'
Sharon stood and made her way to the house. 'Karen,' her voice quiet, soft.
'How does it look?' Sharon lifted her chin high and pulled her hair up.
Karen inspected her neck. 'Better than I expected.'
Sharon dropped her hair, 'Think it'll improve?'
'I don't see why not. Come on, clean yourself up. I'll get some dinner going.'
'Sorry about the smell.'
Karen put an arm around her, voice gone nasal, 'I don't care.'