Sarah showed the key to Asbury Park to the press' cameras.
"Thank you, Mayor," she said into the microphones. "This is lovely, but today's not about me."
"But we have cake," said the mayor.
"Yes, cake!" said Sarah excitedly as the familiar blue cake was brought before her. But it wasn't quite right. She put her finger in the icing and spelled out "Isabel" like she was writing her memory.
"Today is Isabel's birthday," she announced. And then she saw Isabel. They were at the bar, playing cards.
"Sometimes I feel like I'm trapped in my past," said Sarah, buzzing from her gin gimlet.
Isabel took the cards from her hand.
"Hey!" said Sarah too loudly. "I had two pair."
"Don't get stuck on your hand. At any time, you can shuffle the deck again. Always the same cards, but in new places. You just keep shuffling. You will free yourself of the past. You will free yourself of the future. You will free yourself of the present."
Isabel was handing her a deck of cards. Not in the bar, but on the beach. She had fallen from the tree.
Sarah shuffled the deck. She reshuffled. With each shuffle she saw a new memory, one that changed from the one before. Soon she could see the memory caused by any action she might take. She put the deck in her pocket. Isabel smiled. Sarah tackled her.
She heard a thump hit the tree above her. She heard the crack of a gunshot. Isabel was still smiling.
All this time her memory had been vague. Memory is not precise, she realized. Those memories of her childhood were not precise, she was merely remembering the precision her observations used to have.
But never had she felt anything as precisely as Isabel's body beneath her own. To do this properly she had to feel her own body, and how it balanced on Isabel's. Not even sex had been this vivid a feeling. Even with Donald, it was more abstract, like a jigsaw puzzle of souls: it was all about the click together.
And through Isabel's body she could feel Dahlia, bounding up the stairs.
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