Sydney's still jet-lagged, thanks to the red-eye from Jakarta, but she has a comparative essay due on Thursday, and she still hasn't finished reading the second Joyce text.
When Francie finds her, she's curled in front of the couch, hands propping her forehead up, and her stomach grumbling.
"Get up," Francie orders.
Sydney jerks to awareness, raises her eyebrows in confusion.
Francie grabs her by the shoulder. "Up. Now."
"What?" Sydney lets her book slide out of her lap as she stands. "Where are we going?"
Francie drags her to the door and hands her a pair of shoes.
"No, seriously," Sydney protests.
Francie smiles. "You look like a woman in need of some funnel cake." She checks the contents of her wallet, then snaps her purse closed. "My treat."
Sydney thinks back to Ulysses, then lets herself grin. "Will you drive, too?"
Francie rolls her eyes, but agrees.
They drive for thirty-five minutes and end up at a high school harvest festival.
Francie forks over ten dollars to a kid by the front gate and collects a handful of Admit One tickets.
"You promised me funnel cake," Sydney reminds her.
Francie spins in a circle, stops to point. "That way."
"You've been here before?"
"A couple of times." Francie divides the tickets in half, hands a portion to Sydney. "But can't you smell it?"
Sydney takes a deep breath. There's cardboard, and burgers, and cement, and, yes, something inescapably sweet.
She grabs Francie by the elbow and leads the way.
They each get funnel cake, and manage to sprinkle powdered sugar all across their sleeves. Francie gripes about dry cleaning, but Sydney doesn't mind. The pastry is freshly hot and sweet, and worth the mess.
Afterwards, Sydney gets hot cider, and Francie gets hot chocolate. They sit in the grass under a tree and watch some kids playing hackeysack in the parking lot.
Francie burns her tongue on the hot chocolate, waves her hand at her mouth in automatic panic.
Sydney giggles, and Francie glares. "You're heartless, you know that? Pure evil."
"Sorry," Sydney says. They sit quietly for a few moments, and then she adds, "Thanks. For dragging me out here."
Francie shrugs. "Thought you needed a break. You've been working pretty hard, ever since..."
Sydney stares into the sunset, and the clouds are brown as dried blood.
"Yeah," she says. "Ever since."
Francie leans her shoulder against Sydney's, and their arms press together warmly.
"So how's work otherwise?" she asks. "Any cute, young bankers hanging around?"
Sydney smiles, and assesses the situation. Francie pokes her in the arm, and Sydney stares into her cider.
"It's funny you should ask."
And she weaves Francie a story.