Then All the Singing Stopped

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"I already told you, it's not like that."

"Then what's it like, Shan?"

Shannon shifted her cell phone from where it was wedged between her shoulder and head. The rubbery case was pinning her ear to her skull. It had caused a dull ache to form behind her eye. Her sister's insistent badgering wasn't helping.

"I just wanted some time. To, ya know, be alone."

"So you packed up and moved across Brooklyn?"

"Yea. Yea I did." She dropped the canvas flat back into the box she'd been digging through. Unpacking with one hand was a futile act; there was no way she'd find the shoe's partner like that.

Shannon stood up straight, arching her back and cracking her neck.

"Ew. I heard that."

"Shut up, Emma," she exhaled into the phone as she stretched.

"All I'm saying is it seems a bit... extreme. I mean, you love him, right?"

Shannon paused, her shoulders rounding, her posture once again reduced to that of hunched old maid.

"Yes. I love him. I just need some time," she repeated, mild aggravation creeping into her already strangled words.

"Whatever. Seems strange is all I'm sayin'."

Shannon could almost picture her sister sprawled across her twin bed snapping impossibly pink bubblegum between her loose jaw. She was a caricature of youth even at age 22. Shannon often had to remind herself not to begrudge Emma for her own life choices. No one forced Shannon to leave home and strike out on her own. No one made her move to New York City with a single suitcase. If Emma was a comical version of a gossipy tween girl, hair done up in a side-pony, then she was the joke about a backwater hick moving to the big city with stars in her eyes.

Their father raised two fools, it seemed.

"So how's the place?" Emma prompted in an attempt to break the crackling static screeching across the miles.

"It's small and crappy."

"Yikes. Don't say that to Dad when he calls. He'll lose his shit."

Shannon clucked her tongue absently, eyes sliding over the cramped space. Her things were in well-arranged boxes, but there was barely any room to walk. The too-white walls were streaked with memories of past residents. The hardwood floor was scared and pocked. She should take pictures. To prove it wasn't her doing.

"It's cute though, right? I mean, you can make it cute, right?" Emma was digging. She was tugging the conversation from Shannon's tight lips like she was weeding a garden.

"Sure. Yea. It's OK. At least I'll be able to start singing again."

Emma scoffed loudly, her breath creaking through the phone. "I can't fucking believe that dude. Wouldn't let you sing. You lived there too."

"Come on, Em. Grant was a good guy. He just didn't want to hear it so early in the morning."

"But that's when you sing! Whatever. It's still a dick move. My big sister moved a billion miles away to sing and he's going to roll his dumb eyes when you try to practice? It's shitty." Emma paused, considering. "Yea, Shan. That's super shitty. I'm glad you left the troll."

Shannon huffed again, her aggravation pulsing with the pain surging behind her eye. "He wasn't a troll. He was a good guy. And two seconds ago you couldn't understand why I would ever leave."

"I'm a fickle bitch, sis. What can I say? Well, I'm sure you can make it cute."

"Thanks, Em. I'll talk to you soon."

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