Breakfast the next morning had begun to feel like a routine and Bill sat at the table reading as Julie powered through her breakfast and Heather chided her about her eating habits. He set the book down as the teenager hurried out the front door and Heather gave him a tired grin.
“Sorry if our company is getting old. With just the two of us we tend to fall into rituals almost.”
Heather gave him a surprised look, stopping midway through a sip of tea.
“I don’t spend much time with other people, it’s nice to get out.” He looked down at the book.
Heather seemed to think about this for a moment, then took a sip of her tea and nodded, “Well I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself for your short time here. Did you finish your book?”
“Yes, thank you.” He put a hand on it lightly.
“It’s a little against the rules, but if you like I could arrange for you to have it when you get back in your body. It’d just be a book you can’t remember buying.”
“That would be nice, thank you.” He couldn’t think of anything else to say and sat in silence, staring at the table as she finished her tea. Heather set the cup down and stood up with a yawn.
“I have some shopping I need to do, before Julie gets home. Would you like another book to read in the meantime?”
He only nodded and she ducked into another room, returning with an old-looking book. She set it on top of his and opened the cover so he could see the title.
“It’s just another collection of fables, but there’s some fun ones in there. I should be back in a few hours.” With that she was out the front door, and he could hear the lock turn behind her. He turned back to the book and after a few tries managed to get to the first page. It was stiffer than the new book, and the pages were bent and wanted to cling together.
He was halfway through when Heather returned and almost finished by the time Julie tossed her bag by the door.
“Come on Billy, we got a bit of a walk.” She waved to Billy, who put the book down and meandered over to the door.
“Yeah… cars and stuff get weird around the place so we have to walk, it’s about a half hour.”
Outside was a conspicuously cloudy day and Julie hurried him along, chatting a little about school and oppressive amounts of homework. He noticed the wind picking up and by the time they stood in front of an unassuming white office building settled at the end of a road he could see the trees swaying violently. She went up to the door, kicked at it, and strode inside when it opened. Bill trailed behind and was startled by the door shutting behind him. He glanced at it, then back at Julie, who continued walking forward undeterred.