3. Now here you go again. You say you want your freedom. Well, who am I to keep you down? It's only right that you should play the way you feel it, but listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness like a heartbeat drives you mad in the stillness of remembering what you had, and what you lost, and what you had, and what you lost. Thunder only happens when it's raining. Players only love you when they're playing. Say, women, they will come and they will go. When the rain washes you clean, you'll know. Now here I go again. I see the crystal visions. I keep my visions to myself. It's only me who wants to wrap around your dreams, and have you any dreams you'd like to sell? Dreams of loneliness like a heartbeat drives you mad in the stillness of remembering what you had, and what you lost.

Fleetwood Mac

"Dreams"

"I think you just need to try and let it go… it's good that you're angry, though."

Annie smiled. "It feels good. Kinda." She sighed and switched the strap of her backpack from her right shoulder to her left. "I'm just sad some of the time, then angry, then sad."

"Yeah, that's usually how it goes." Dee looked down at her skirt. "Do you think Herb's gonna yell?"

Annie looked at the item in question. "About how short it is?"

"Yeah."

"He probably will. I just don't get it, though. It ended so fast. Right out of the blue."

"He's an idiot, Annie. You'll get over it."

"I hope so."

They passed CD World. Dee craned her neck around and peered in through each of the windows and around each of the racks.

"See him?"

"No. Stupid fucker." Dee and Chris had been dating for eight months and were head over heels for each other. It was adorable and Annie was happy for her friend. But a few moments later her thoughts turned back to Mike, and she sighed.

"I'm sick of being sad."

"I know."

They crossed the street in front of CD World and ended up in front of Herbert's Café and Restaurant. The sign on the building was merry, decorated with apples around the border. There were seven or eight small square tables set up in front of the store, decorated with red tablecloths and red flowers in vases.

Dee pushed the door open and a bell tinkled. Herbert thrust himself out over the counter.

"Ladies! Get in the back, now! See how busy it is?"

"Ain't that bad, Herb," Annie said.

"Stop smacking your gum at me. Dee, don't you have civilized clothes?"

Dee was wearing an Iron Maiden shirt that she had sliced up and made more feminine over a short skirt and combat boots. "Nope."

Growling, Herbert threw two red aprons at them and wobbled into the kitchen. Dee grinned. "Damn, I love it when he's angry."

Herbert was a generally good-natured old man with a balding head. It was Wednesday, so Herbert was wearing a red shirt, which matched perfectly with his red face. Herbert wore red on the weekdays, an orange shirt on Sunday, and a green shirt on Saturday. He was fond of saying, "It's an Irish neighborhood, ladies!" Saturday was also bring-your-own-beer night. Sunday was family night. Any kid under nine got a free cookie.

Dee was peering out of the window while tying her apron behind her back.

"Chris hasn't called me to tell me when he goes on break yet," she muttered.

"He will. Don't worry about it."

They leaned on the counter. Contrary to Herbert's prior outburst, there were two people in the place, both of which were reading their newspapers and looked quite content.

"Herb's the fattest guy on Valley Street," Annie said.

"No doubt about that," Dee laughed. "And everything about him is red."

"True, true."

Suddenly Dee stood up straight and pushed her hair behind her shoulders. "Chris is coming out."

"I think he's just fixing the sign on the door, babe."

"Damn." Dee made a face at her boyfriend's back as he retreated back into the depths of his store. She turned back to Annie. "The thing about Mike is, he's a jerk. An ugly, stupid, loser jerk. You can do better and you shouldn't have wasted your time. No one else is ever going to go out with him, ever. Now you're gonna perk up and look sexy and do your thing. You've got me behind you, you've got Shana, you probably even have Chris, Will and James."

"Them too?"

"Yeah, they think it was really dumb how he dumped you."

"Oh." Annie felt a measure of satisfaction of knowing that Mike's best friends were behind her. "That's cool."

"They're cool guys."

Annie grinned. "I know."

They leaned in silence for a moment or two.

"We need to find you a new man," Dee said.

"Agreed. Did you know that 'shokran' means 'thank you' in Arabic?"

Dee snorted. "Now why do you think that I'd want to know that?"

Annie grinned and Dee laughed. Then Herbert yelled something from the kitchen and they went into the back to help him.