i will end with words unsaid: I

It would have soured in the ice. I think about those things now, the minute details that were lost before.
He said he’d sent the cake. In my imagining I gripped the phone with both hands, nails bitten tightly to the bed, the frayed cuticles fringing the tiny digits. It would have been cool and uncomfortable against my face, but he would have seemed so far away.
In my imagining he was far, so far away, that I gave him more.
A grin.
A crinkle in his brow reserved for me.
He wanted to see me, even through the phone, and he held a Polaroid worn down on the edges and faded on the center, gripped it to him as he imagined me.
“I sent you a cake,” he said. I know he did.
Now I imagine that I offered a toothless grin that he wouldn’t see.
“An ice cream cake,” he continued, and I could feel the cool of the chocolate melting on my tongue, the tough, spongy cake stinging my gums. Time does not exist in my imagining, and so I waited for forever and for a day.
Unforgiving Georgia rays blister and purple my young skin, the red clay soiling my favorite shoes. I wait too long to use the restroom and I almost don’t make it, but I leave the door ajar so that I can see the box at the end of the drive.
Dust obscures me, and rain too, and mosquitos scar my legs, ugly black mottled against the deep brown. The beds bleed and the scalp burns.
I hear his voice, fervent and real, and it does not occur to me that this, the cake, is one of his stories.
I wonder if it will melt before it comes.
It does not come and he does not come.
It would have soured in the ice. It would have melted and I didn’t like chocolate even then. My name would not have been on it.
The phone would have lost our connection and I would have been too embarrassed to tell him that I didn’t like Neapolitan and that I thought the cake had gone bad.
He does not call and it does not come and words, any, are lost between us. Time does not exist in my imaginings, not really, but I do not hear his voice for forever and one day.
When next we speak he has forgotten the cake but it stands between us in my mind, lopsided and terribly stale and not what I want and absent.
Daddy feels thick on my tongue after, and when I say it to him it almost chokes me. I kill the word. It sours and melts down and dies and I watch it scatter and I never say it again.


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