Today's Reading

"Definitely." The Fourth of July is a huge deal in Remington Hollow. Townspeople reenact the Remington Hollow Tea Party, a smaller and less publicized version of the Boston Tea Party, in which a group of intrepid citizens boarded the ship anchored at the town dock and dumped crates of tea in the river to protest the British tax. Remington Hollow was kind of a big deal in colonial times. Now, men dress up in Revolutionary Warera costumes and march with old muskets down Main Street. The high school band plays, and the color guard twirls red, white, and blue flags. After the parade and the reenactment, there's music and food and vendors in the park. Then, the next afternoon, everyone watches the big race across the river on homemade rafts. People get extremely creative—and extremely competitive. Last year, Bea's team built the raft that won, and Kat's raft sank but got the most applause, because she and her drama club friends were singing songs from Hamilton as it went down. "That's tradition. Remington Hollow is very big on tradition."

"Oh wow."

Des can't tell whether Paige means wow as in cool or wow, what a totally stupid tradition.

"Yeah." Des doesn't say that it's her favorite weekend of the whole year. "So, how come you're staying with Miss Lydia for the summer?"

"It wasn't exactly my decision," Paige explains, winding her purple hair into a neat bun and checking her phone. "D amn. I'm going to be late—I've got to go." She flashes Des a dark-lipped smile and hurries toward Tia Julia's. "Thanks again for the quarters. See you around, Desdemona."

Des doesn't correct her, even though literally no one else calls her Desdemona.

It's the third week of June, and the whole summer stretches out before her, lonely as hell, except for her endless to-do list. Her best friend—former best friend?—is too cool for watching old British murder mysteries or decorating their planners or anything else they used to do together. She's barely texted Des since she's been home from college. What is there to look forward to? Everything—all the work at Arden and at home—will keep falling on Des, at least until Gram can get around better.

Des bites her lip, remembering the conversation they had about Gram's living will and her funeral wishes. Just in case, Gram had insisted. The doctor and the physical therapist say she's making good progress. But Des can't help worrying. Gram has always seemed young and strong and indomitable. It's been hard to see her weak, in pain, looking&old. It hurts Des's heart, and it makes her wonder how their family will function, moving forward.

What if all her new responsibilities aren't temporary?

The Garrett girls' roles have long been established among themselves and around town. At fifteen, Vi is the sensitive, bookish one. At sixteen, Kat is the diva: emotional, theatrical, and never afraid to make a scene. Eighteen-year-old Bea is the brilliant, ambitious one, off to Georgetown in the fall. And Des? At nineteen, Des is the oldest. The responsible one. The boring one, maybe. Next to glamorous, artistic Paige, she felt hopelessly dull.

But Des wants things for herself beyond running the bookstore. Beyond taking care of her sisters. Maybe she needs to try to carve out more time for her illustrations. For making new friends. For figuring out who she is now, a year after high school graduation.

What if she isn't boring, responsible Des this summer?

What if she tries being Desdemona? That's what Mom named her, after all. Maybe it's past time she tried it on for size.



Dread slows Bea's footsteps as she approaches the Daily Grind. She scuffs her sensible black flats against the brick sidewalk, glancing in the window of the Tabby Cat Café to see how many cats she can spot. It's a game she plays with herself on anxious days; if she sees five or more cats, it's good luck. It means that whatever she's worried about will work itself out.

The original tabby, Cinnamon, is snoozing in a puddle of sunshine on the flowered love seat, flanked by pillows bearing his likeness. Snowflake, the floofy Persian, is perched on a bookshelf like a watchful sentinel, tail twitching. A small black cat is in the process of batting a figurine off a high café table. Two calicos are curled together on the back of an overstuffed armchair. One, two, three, four, five. Bea takes a deep breath and waves at Mason Kim, the sulky faux-hawked waiter, who's messing around on his phone behind the counter. Mase waves back half-heartedly.

"Bea! Yoo-hoo! Bea Garrett!" Mrs. Lynde calls down Prince Street. "That was a real nice story in the Gazette yesterday!"

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