The hourglass exhausts itself and I turn it on its head. I watch the sand rerun, the grains tumbling over each other, erratically uniform, building a mountain out of moments from the past.

I can hear music.

Supine, Marion tells me, it’s supposed to be hot.

I watch the time drain away.

She lifts her arm into the air, palm up as though cupping a ball. ‘We should go to the beach,’ she says.

I tell her the salt sticks to my skin, that I feel granular.

Insular on the couch, Marion is silent, flexing her fingers around the ball.

I count the grains a second at a time.

‘Only, when it’s hot,’ she offers, ‘you should be somewhere that feels hot.’

I tell her that it should feel hot in hell, that she’ll be comfortable there, and watch the ball explode between her fingers.

How many grains in an hour, I say

Marion drops her arm over the back of the couch and pulls herself up. There’s a crease running down the side of her face from the way she was lying. I don’t say anything. She looks at me and scowls, the crease unyielding.

‘Science,’ she says, as though that were the end of it. The scowl slides away and she fits a smile in its place. ‘Take me out.’

Like a hitman, I say, and the smile doesn’t fit anymore.

She disconnects her arm and lets herself fall back. I hear her sigh float up to the ceiling. ‘Are you bored?’ she asks me.

I tell her no, I can’t think of a better way to pass time.

A stale piece of popcorn launches itself over the couch’s fabric ramparts. It misses me and lands on the table. I look from the popcorn to the hourglass. Grains.

‘I want to see the sun,’ the couch tells me. ‘I want to lie in the sun.’

We’ll never get you out, I say.

‘If you don’t take me,’ she says with the cadence of a threat but none of the potency, ‘I’ll take myself.’

I get up and stand behind the couch, looking down at Marion.

Why don’t you move?

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