Darlene is missing. I hadn’t seen her since yesterday at lunch. She had been moody, playing with her food, and acting like I didn’t exist. In better times we’d get along gangbusters, her hanging on me so close until I couldn’t breathe and me telling her how beautiful her dark brown eyes are. We understand each other, Darlene and I. After my shifts at the hospital, after all the frantic bodies and shouts down hallways, I can pour out my heart to Darlene as she sits like a statue listening as if my heartbeat is the only sound in the world. Then we curl up together tight as a Gordian knot. Darlene might be cold-blooded but she is my only friend. My search takes me through the house past her usual sitting place in the living room, a driftwood log I sanded and polished for her. I stop. The heat lamp is off. I must’ve forgotten to switch it on when I left for my shift. I turn on the light, throwing the living room into sharp relief. A scrap of silky white glows on the carpet. Darlene. She must be shedding. Darlene. Is that why she’s been so moody? I move to pick up the shed skin and see another scrap in the hallway out to the garage. I follow the trail of skin into the garage. The garage door is wide open. Darlene’s outgrown skin lies in a path past the mailbox. She’s gone. It’s over. We’re over. We grew apart, it’s my fault I tell myself. Holding in my tears press the clicker for the garage door as dusk settles on a world full of beating hearts that are not mine.