Somewhere on the other end of the telephone, home froze over.

he isn’t coming home”

is an ice cube that never melts, no matter long you hold it behind your chatteringĀ teeth, no matter how long you leave it tucked in the back of your throat, no matter how long it walks on your tongue, it never thaws.

on this end, her cousin presses his face into the telephone like his breath can warm her into peace, can will her into sleep, can walk her into deeper breathing,

but each piece of her is cracking and chipping and chasing salt down to the end of her chin and seeping into the floor of a room so cold she can’t taste it.

on this end, her cousin is at home with his wife and youngest child, and the summer sun still burns their skin, and the winds still carry the heat of the end of the season through their hair enough to melt the backs of their necks.

when they hang up the phone, his hands are full of his best friend’s ten fingers. when they hang up the phone, man and wife wonder when and how and why they too will freeze to death.

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