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I SAT ON the porch the next morning, filling the enclosure with smoke as I listened to the wind howl through the trees outside. To say my curiosity was piqued would be an understatement. I couldn't stop thinking about Joshua and that night.

The crate. The crate. The crate.

I spun the thought around in my head. What had been in it, and why didn't Joshua want anyone to know about it?

Ideas stormed around my subconscious, but for some reason my mind wouldn't let those thoughts take full form. I was too afraid of the answers. The shape of that crate... it reminded me of something that might contain a... I didn't think the word aloud.

I focused on another question. What had Joshua been talking about with wind spreading? What did that mean? I puzzled that one over for a minute, but I had no idea. Maybe it was meant to be some sort of a threat.

I finished my cigarette and set it down in the ash tray, letting it smoke itself out. I breathed in heavily, the cool air stinging my lungs, and I shivered. Just as I was about to get up and go inside, the front door to the porch swung open, and Jeremey came in. I'd been so absorbed in thought I hadn't even heard his car pull up to the curb.

"Hey man," he greeted me. He sat down in the wicker rocking chair next to me. "How was work last night?"

I shrugged, and we were quiet for a minute.

"Windy out today, isn't it?" Jeremey finally said, zipping up his jacket a little further. It seemed like that had become a formal greeting in Millstone over the past few months.

I just nodded in response. We sat in silence for another few minutes, the only sound being the breeze knocking against the porch screens and rustling through the leafless trees.

"You remember that guy we followed last week?" I finally broke the silence. "The guy in that beige pick-up?"

Jeremey sighed and ran his hand back through his hair. "Yeah," he finally began. "Ha, that was a dumb idea." He laughed nervously. Something about the experience didn't sit quite right with him either.

"I saw him at the gas station again last night."

"Well I'm not surprised, Harper. Everyone's got to get gas now and again. You of all people should know that."

He was doing his best to hide his nerves, but his voice shook as he spoke. He ran his hands up and down the legs of his pants. They were a hideous turquoise blue, but Jeremey didn't know any better, and I didn't have the heart to tell him. I remembered the day we'd met—the first day of kindergarten. Kid'd worn a pair of pink pants to school. He was color blind. So was his dad. They'd gone shopping and thought the pants were beige. The other kids wouldn't stop making fun of him about it, but then I opened up my dumb mouth and said: "They're not pink, they're salmon." I think my mom must have been watching way too many interior decorating shows at the time, and that was where I'd gotten the idea from. Needless to say, everyone stopped laughing at Jeremey and started laughing at me.

We'd been friends ever since.

A sudden gust of wind knocking at the porch door brought me back to the present, and I looked over at Jeremey. He wasn't paying attention to me, just absently staring out across the street.

"Do you remember the other night?" I finally asked. "The Friday Lydia and I split and you found me in the lawn at four in the morning?"

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