Liza hated the part of the year when it got dark early, but it wasn’t that bad during the holidays. She loved the lights. They looked like little stars. Most of the houses on her block were lit, but her’s was dark. Liza wished that she had at least hung some lights and put up the tree. She went inside, dumped her stuff off in the dining room, and stood in front of the refrigerator. A piece of cold pizza and a beer beckoned her. She pulled them out and hopped up on the counter. Her parents had always yelled at her for sitting on this counter when she was a kid, but there was no one to say anything now. The house was so quiet that the ticking of the cuckoo clock in the living room could be heard from all over the house. She stared out the kitchen window. The familiar flow of traffic on the Avenue was almost as calming as the beer. She zoned out while she finished her pizza.
The grades for the fall term posted today. Liza got As in both Business Law and Managerial Accounting. Between those and the B she had somehow managed in Econ over the summer, she was in good shape. Shauna quit a few months ago, so work was just as boring, but slightly less miserable. Her next door neighbor was roofer, and he had patched her roof for free. He was probably just afraid that the water would spread to his house, but still, it was nice. She wrote herself a note to get him something for Christmas.
When she put it on the fridge, her eyes fell on Casey’s glittery art project. She died in September. Liza was at work. Nurse Bill wasn’t at work that day. Laura never came back. The funeral was small. She half expected Bruce to show, but he didn’t. Casey had been in the hospital for months when she died. When Liza went to pack up her things, she found a dog-eared paper tucked inside Casey’s favorite book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was a story in Bruce’s writing. She had never seen it before and didn’t know when he had given it to Casey. Liza downed the rest of the beer and put the bottle in the recycling bucket out back. When she came back to the kitchen, her eyes fell on the refrigerator again. She stared at the glittery art project.