Emelina and Codi are getting the courtyard ready for a Labor Day fiesta. They talk about how Codi's super scared of teaching the terrifying high school kids at Grace High.
Apparently, these kids like to chase biology teachers around with fetal pigs.
Emelina tells Codi that Loyd Peregrina is J.T.'s best friend, and they're both going to be coming to the party.
Codi plays it cool. She's like, Oh, yeah we dated a few times, NBD.
On the day of the party, Codi goes to pick up more beer with John Tucker, and they pass a whole lot of orchards that seem to be losing their fruit.
John Tucker calls it "fruit drop," but basically it means that all of these fruit trees are losing their fruits early, before they can ripen, and that's no good.
Huh—y'know, Codi is sort of like the human equivalent of one of those trees.
Anyway, Codi goes to the liquor store, and the whole way there, she thinks about how she feels invisible without a lover or a sister to tell her who she is.
Then Codi runs into a metaphor.
It's a carob tree that makes tasty edible pods, but more importantly, it's "dioecious," which means that in order to produce those tasty pods, two trees are needed, a male and a female. This one is a fruit-producing female, so there must be a male carob tree around somewhere. But Codi can't find it. Maybe she'll find it by the end of the book.
This is the first of many science lessons that Animal Dreams has hidden in its richly symbolic pages.
It's also the second time in, like, two pages that Codi has metaphorically melded with some kind of tree.
Anyway, fresh off the carob trees, Codi sees Loyd driving up the street in his truck. Naturally, she runs away without saying hello.
At the party, Codi sees J.T. again and remembers that they were close as kids. The party feels like a high school reunion, complete with 80s hair band covers and ex-cheerleaders named Trish who are exactly as dumb and irritating as they used to be in high school.
Codi gets rescued from just such a Trish by the timely arrival of Loyd. He flirts with her for a minute but then goes off to get a beer, and Codi's all like, Well, that's Loyd. Leaving people hanging without their beers, or their babies, or whatever.
Tired of talking to people, Codi goes to hang out with someone's dog, which looks like it's part coyote.
Codi hears a bunch of old men talking about fruit drop, and one of them says something about "poison ground."
The old men talk about how the Black Mountain mining company has been poisoning the river with the sulfuric acid that they run through the waste from the mine, called tailings.
The mine's just trying to get a little more gold and copper, but they're also destroying the river and the farms that depend on it.
These geezers seem pretty resigned to the fact that the mining company is going to kill all of their trees, and it makes Codi so sad that she calls it quits on the party.