Keeping the Moon
Stevie Wonder's Greatest Hits, Volume One. If she wasn't happy, she usually put on Led Zeppelin IV which Morgan hated; she called it stoner music, and it reminded her of some old boyfriend. Their CD collection, which I'd glimpsed just once as I'd stood on the front porch waiting for Morgan, was enormous. It was spread across their entire house, stacked on speakers and the TV and the coffee tables and just everywhere, spilling across the floor to make a path from one room to another.
    Morgan saw me notice this. She had to kick two CDs-- George Jones and Talking Heads, it looked like--out of the way just to shut the door.
    "It's the Columbia Record and Tape club," she said simply, nodding toward the house. "Twelve for a penny. They hate us."
    Apparently Isabel and Morgan were engaged in a mail war with Columbia, sending angry letters back and forth. But the music kept on coming. It was Isabel's main accessory as she dashed in late to work, always with two or three CDs, usually new, tucked under her arm.
    At night, when I crawled out on my rooftop, it was what I heard first, rising from their windows. Usually they were on the
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    front porch with the door propped open, the two of them lit up from behind. Isabel smoked and they split a six-pack, sitting barefoot facing each other. Every so often one of them would get up and go inside to change the music, and the other would complain.
    "Don't play that Celine Dion crap again," I heard Isabel call out one night, stubbing out her cigarette. "I don't care how much you miss Mark."
    Morgan reappeared in the doorway, hand on her hip. Behind her, Celine was already singing. "It was my pick, you know."
    "Y'all need a new song," Isabel grumbled. "Just for that, I'm putting Zeppelin on for my next three choices."
    "Isabel," Morgan said, plopping down beside her. "Then I'd have to do Neil Diamond, and you don't want that." Morgan loved crooners: Tony Bennett, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra. She only played Frank, though, when she'd had a crappy night and was really missing Mark. I knew this music well because my mother was a Sinatra fan too.
    "Well, then," Isabel said, "I'd have to play one of those Rush songs with a ten-minute drum solo. I wouldn't want to, but I'd have to."
    "Okay," Morgan said. "I promise I'll only play this once tonight. I just miss him, that's all."
    Isabel didn't say anything. She hardly ever did when Mark came up; his name always made her twist her mouth a little bit tighter and turn away.
    Celine Dion kept singing, and Morgan brushed her bare foot across the porch, back and forth, mouthing the words. They didn't say anything for a while. When the song faded, Morgan
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    stuck out her bottle, and Isabel leaned forward, clinking hers against it.
    This was always the truce.
    If one or the other didn't have plans they'd stay out there all night. As it got later they'd get lazy and stop changing the music, letting one CD run its course. Isabel always sang along; she knew the words to everything.
    I was amazed that they had so much to talk about. From the second they saw each other, there was constant laughing and sarcasm and commentary, something connecting them that pulled taut or fell limp with each thought spoken. Their words, like the music, had the potential to be endless.
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    ***
    chapter six
    M ira had a thing for astrology. She started each morning by reading her horoscope very carefully, then made predictions about the day.
    "Listen to this," she called out as I spread fat-free cream cheese across my bagel. She was halfway through a big bowl of Cap'n Crunch drowning in whole milk, the kind of breakfast that would have horrified my mother. " 'Today is a five. You will find yourself challenged, but stay calm: relax and you'll discover you had the wiggle room you needed all along. Highlight energy, patience, faith. Capricorn involved.' "
    "Hmmm," I said, which was my usual response.
    "Ought to be an interesting day," she mused, taking another heaping spoonful of cereal.

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