The trees died in splendor, and the scent of autumn ushered in the school year, one marked by a long bus ride and a stone building that reminded everyone it had been built in 1945 on a brass plaque beside the front doors. Noel was sitting in English, listening to an overqualified teacher drone about James Joyce, staring out the window and into the courtyard. There was a pond, green and thick with weeds, and a bench beside it. He thought of asking the teacher to go sit outside but got a text and surreptitiously checked his phone. He didn't recognize the number, but he knew who it was from. It read: I hope you're okay. Tell Ryan I said hi. His daughter's beautiful.

Noel deleted the text but told Ryan Britta was beautiful and bought an ounce of kush after school.