She laughs. It's so beautiful. So pure. Like church bells. "It took me until now to find the door."
My eyes widen. "What?"
"It was hidden, like a secret passage. There's built-in shelving and an armoire along one wall. The door isinsidethe armoire. I had to climb through it to get here. Can you believe that?”
I can't help but laugh. "This is your Narnia."
"I had no idea. By the time I bought The Bait Bucket, Hildy was already too old to climb the stairs to the roof. I always wondered how she got upstairs to the apartment, actually."
"She had one of those motorized chair lifts on the staircase."
"No way! Did you give it a try?"
She shakes her head.
"How could you resist?"
I chuckle at that. "You think Friendly has gremlins?"
She raises an eyebrow. "Maybe not, but who's to say your minions haven't sabotaged it?"
An unpleasant tension crackles through the air, threatening to ruin the good mood.
"Listen, I have an idea,” I say, leaning toward her. “From now on, the roof is Switzerland, okay? Up here, there is no you versus me, or The Bait Bucket versus Sticks & Stones."
"Or the town versus me?" She tilts her head, considering. "Deal."
The sun dips below the horizon. Margo hugs her arms around her body to hold in the warmth. I shrug off my sweatshirt and hand it to her.
She smiles. "I still haven't returned your other one. Do you have an unlimited supply, or will you eventually run out?"
"It'll take a while, but I'll eventually run out."
"When that day comes, I'll repay the favor."
I chuckle. "You'll loan me one of my own sweatshirts?"
We fall into easy conversation, the hours ticking late into the night. When we finally leave Narnia, it almost feels like we're friends.
But what happens when we're back in the real world?
Afteranotherlatenighton the roof with Tuck—the fifth in a row—I fall into bed, exhausted. Somehow, we've become friends.
But only on the roof. Don’t forget that.
Sighing, I nestle beneath the covers. The sound of waves rolling onto Friendly Beach lulls me to sleep. Just as I'm drifting off, I feel my ghost cat curl up at my feet. He doesn't visit every night, and when he does, it's after I've already slipped too far into unconsciousness to move. I guess all cats are the same whether alive, dead, or imaginary—they do what they want, when they want.
When I wake, I feel more refreshed than I can ever remember feeling. Sunlight filters in through the windows and I look out at the dune. I see Hazel walking down the ramp with her little dog. The handsome fisherman is with her, dragging his cart of gear. I've since learned from Tuck that his name is Bishop, and he's some sort of super genius.
According to Tuck, everyone expected Bishop to go on to be the governor of Georgia or maybe even a Supreme Court Justice. It was a shock when he came back to Friendly and opened a local practice. No one knows what possessed him to give everything up to be a small-town lawyer.