"It's really cold, isn't it?"
though she pronounced it as Innit

She was watching her breath
as if she had never seen it before
tangible
"Like in a cartoon, or whatnot."

Small events captivated her attention,
made her smile no matter the circumstance.

When I told her I was sending her back
to Alabama she said she was
not surprised,
but she pronounced it - 'not supised,

Her voice, a little lower than usual,
didn't fool either of us.

She was amazed at the obvious, like January on the horizon and the fact that I could not possibly keep her warm through that entire winter. 

It was a week before Christmas when we broke up in her shitty rat-hole of an upstairs apartment- the kind only accessible by two flights of rickety and untrustworthy wooden stairs on the shady side of an old Victorian home. Her heater was broken for the second time that month and her electric oven just couldn’t keep the room warm enough to stop me from seeing my breath every time I exhaled. My chest roared. I couldn't help myself. I shoved my blue fingers deep into the pockets of a coat I’d lose track of soon after. I didn't know how to keep her warm and I did not know the right words to tell her that. She tucked the hair from my forehead behind an ear with her frigid fingertips, giving me goosebumps. She said I had other fires to stoke. I didn’t know how to believe her yet.

I never really saw her the same again after that night, and eventually, from one place in life to another, I just...never saw her again.

In the Christmas lights this year I expected to see that rat-hole apartment housing two new lovers wrapped in tight to warm each other. But when the lights on fresh snow reflected only a scrap heap of an old home once mighty fallen, I couldn’t be surprised. The shimmering ice on the drive home left me wondering just the same as years ago if this was the universe conspiring against me or granting me a very sincere favor.

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