i am at a deli with audra and someone else.  maybe thorn? we go to this deli three different times.  every time audra orders the same thing – a spicy mustard sandwich.  and every time she gets the mustard on her face.  at some point i go into a neighboring business alone and learn about cars and bicycles that run on air.  all you have to do, the salesman explains, is put a tennis ball in the gas tank.  there is a net full of tennis balls and he tosses one in.  i can’t believe it.  he reaches in and pulls it out, it’s still clean.  that’s all you need to do, he tells me.  the tennis ball tricks the car into thinking there is gas in the tank and then it runs on air.  also, it’s self-driving.  i’m sold.  it’s what i’ve always wanted.  it would make my life so much easier to not always have to depend on others to take me places.  and there are so many far away places that i want to see!  i ask him how much and he breaks down the cost into monthly payments for me.  i stare at the totals and feel tears sting my nose and eyes.  i can’t afford it.  it’s $949 a month. and i have to take a $10k paycut to manage my loans already.  there’s just no way.  he tells me i could walk out with a bicycle today.  it’s not the same.  i walk out defeated and meet up with audra and a third person.  we walk along brick storefronts on a sunny sidewalk.  audra has mustard on her face again.  i don’t tell her.  we arrive at a beach a little later than planned.  my brother is there. we climb on mounds of granite, red with iron.  i push around the dusty pebbles on the largest stone with my shoe.  “It’s high water time,” my brother tells us and there are moans of “oh no.”  we are each stuck on our individual islands of red stone until the tide recedes.  we cannot touch the water because of the lead content.  the stones all lead to a cabin.  as i’m standing on my iron stone, listening to the waves, and my stone becomes a swinging train car.  i take out my camera and take pictures of the cabin doorway.  inside the cabin is an open field that is a cemetery.  there are crosses standing tall in the bright green grass.  each of them has a flower in the center, a fake flower made of highly saturated tissue paper like those that you can buy at amusement parks.  with each swing i try to get the perfect shot, a perspective from which the whole of the beauty can be seen. when the pendulum ride stops, the water has receded enough for us to continue and my train car is once again a stone.  i hop to the next stone and the next until i am in the cabin with thorn and audra.  i tell them how beautiful it is and they ask if i love the work that has been put into it.  i tell them, of course i do! but as i look around i see that the cabin is just a cabin.  the colors of the flowers are from framed crayon drawings and macaroni pasted to construction paper with way too much glue.  the place is cluttered and disorganized, the drywall is white and dirty.  i tell them about my dream of owning a self-driving car.  they laugh at me and tell me how unsafe and stupid they are.  i defend the cars and explain that they run on air so they are very environmentally friendly and their safety record is much better than that of the average human driver.  they laugh at me and dismiss the idea entirely. i tell audra that i know she has my diary and i want it back.
back in my room i open a package that is my diary.  the diary is written in a yellow composition notebook that i started writing a novel in a few years ago.  audra has written in the last blank pages.  her diary entries are day to day facts of her life.  what she did, where she went with her husband and children.  they are written in the same barely legible writing she had in high school.  i flip back through the entries to my own and see the fat straight careful writing of my high school self.  they are all entries of concern for others, longing for love, wishes for the future. not much has changed.  audra writes that in exchange for the diary she wants her plane back.  i pick up the pocked styrofoam gray and red plane made from two interlocking pieces (cabin and wings) and shrug. i hope she doesn’t blame me for the way it looks or expects it to have more parts.  it was beat up when i got it and the two pieces are all i have.  i swear.