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I like the lace curtains, they outline chrysanthemums, curling up in white-threaded bloom, while just behind, the snow clumps and falls to the hard ground with inaudible thumps.

The heater belches. Thump.

The electricity flicks off. Thump.

I sit and glue my eyes to the screen off a new landscape, icy, discoloring my view into something unfamiliar. Thump.

I want to scratch nails at the heavy oak table. Thump. I pull at the metal blue lamp. Thump. I push at the blackened bookshelf, away from the door. Thump. I sit back down, out of breath. Thump. I lay down, and try to sleep.

But it still stings, and the thumps keep falling. Inaudible now, just like the snow, never listens.

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She runs! And we hug,

“Darling!” ­­

“Sweetie!”

I missed yous are dutifully exchanged.

“How was the drive?” It was good, good.

Her dark velvet pleats are a shade deeper than my corduroy, I notice.

“Yours?” Great, good.

I wonder, where the deep circles came from. She wonders where the pink in my cheeks has gone to. I grasp her hand a little tighter. We’re both doing well, we establish. She’s been busy, I’ve been getting on fine. The parents are well.

I break the silence of cheery banter.

“Sorry.” Yeah, she acknowledges. Neither missed the other. Neither wanted to meet.

I open up the black umbrella. She pulls down the black veil. Modern; inevitably chic.