Pen doesn’t want a cigarette. He wants a drink.
His girlfriend is out back again, high in the trees. She’s pulling feathers again, doesn’t even know she’s doing it. Scares him to death.
He puts down the little stack of mail, turns on the hall light, sings the security code and hears the distant rattle of storm doors. Wipes damp palms on his pants.
Rough weather’s coming. That was the first thing he knew for sure, when he surfaced, screaming like a girl, and they hauled him out of the sarcobox and rolled him past the others of his kind, stacked and thawing by the doorway, just beginning to stink. His body resonates to pressure changes, striations in the cloud; he sings like a harp in the wind.
Pen has no clear idea whether this is a bug or a feature.
He keeps painkillers handy for this, but he has promised Estelle that he will not be taking that drink, and he aches as he walks the corridor, topheavy, absurd as a popinjay, on skinny and suffering legs. There’s a strip of light under the closed parlor door. Pen pauses outside, face completely expressionless.
Rough weather is coming.
Slides the door open, then, flinging open his arms to the music and his miracle boy perched at the iMac and his baby girl, playing glisses on Tree’s old harp on the floor.

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