62 pages • 2 hours readSarah Dessen
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After the separation, Heidi concentrates on the Beach Bash, an end-of-summer tradition with a dance and merchant participation that she leads. Heidi also offers to support Auden if she wants to discuss the separation, but Auden repeats that she’s fine. Unlike when her parents separated, Auden feels her throat tightening, panic, and “awful” sensations, she thinks because it involves Thisbe, who is so new to life.
Still “unsettled,” Auden delves into work spreadsheets and receipts, then organizes the office. She ignores Victoria’s calls, keeping her distance since her mom hung up on her. Though Auden considers telling Victoria about the separation, she imagines her smugness over Heidi and Robert’s marriage collapsing. As Auden cleans, she finds pictures of Heidi on Clementine’s opening day, and another of pregnant Heidi and her father smiling on the beach.
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Adam invites Auden and the girls to a kickball game. He states it was Eli’s idea and encourages them to come, as this game signals Eli is rising from his funk. Maggie looks at Auden, signaling she’s the reason Eli isn’t miserable anymore. At closing time, Auden makes excuses about paperwork, avoiding the kickball game and Eli. She falls into her old habits of staying removed from social activities and works late, then sits on the boardwalk, staring at them playing kickball on the beach.
By Sarah Dessen