Helen

Terence would miss her the most.
Teresa would grieve in her way–wildly and destructively, leaving all the rest to clean up after her.
Nicole would cling to Terence and she would lose her footing and she would not regain it again for a very long time.
Lamar would grieve as a child would–selfishly and away from them.
Terence would be angry. His anger would swallow him and everyone else. He would rage against them, beat against them, because he could not rage against her. He could not beat against her, he could not tell her not to go.
Could he, would beg her not to.
Mama stay, his voice would crack. It hadn’t deepened as much as he pretended, and the lilt at the end would pierce her soul.
She would, if she could. Not because he needed her–he didn’t. But she wanted to be there.
Helen looked down at TJ, asleep at her chest. He had fallen asleep at Cheryl’s breast, but she took him and he slept against her just as soundly. She loved him. He looked like Terence did at his age. She loved him more for it. She wished she could see him always. She hoped from somewhere she might.
As she clutched TJ to her a shadow came over her. She gazed upon it, but she did not start as others might. She knew this face. It was hers, but more beautiful.
Helen was a handsome woman. She was beautiful, though, once.
Her beauty had not faded; it resided beneath the surface, saved,like all of the things she wanted to do, for later.
She saw this beautiful face–her face–not a month before, after Yvette died. A courtesy, Death said.

Helen was a girl, not yet six when she met Death the first time.
Ms. Rosie lived in the shack about a quarter of a mile down the dirt road–Helen didn’t think of it as a shack, not in those terms, but that is what it was. It was a shotgun shack, more cluttered yard than house, with more kids than anywhere else in the neighborhood. There were at least eleven at any given moment in Helen’s childhood there. Joe said there were more, he’d seen them himself, but that they’d taken to killing the rest, babies and kids alike. Joe said not to go over there without one of the older ones, just in case Ms. Rosie thought she’d missed one.
The summers in Eutaw were hot–not Georgia hellfire hot, Helen didn’t yet know that kind of heat. The summers in Eutaw were blistering and the kind of heat that tired you. It was the kind of heat you didn’t escape from, the kind you just melted into.
There was no pool in the colored part of Eutaw. The only water outside of the bath came from the creeks. There seemed to Helen to be thousands of little creeks for exploring and fishing when Joe and the boys let her come. There was only the one lake, though. Lake Hanged Man, the one that Joe said the White boys used to throw all the colored bodies into after their rallies. Joe said it was man made so you couldn’t find the bodies, that the white boys from Birmingham, some of Bull Conner’s boys were sent here into Eutaw just to build this lake.
If you went into Lake Hanged Man you would drown. There were 20 kids between Ms. Rosie and The Jones’, and the only one that was rumored to swim was Rufus, Ms. Rosie’s oldest boy. Joe said he could swim, but Helen knew he was full of shit. She said it, too. He slapped her in the face and pushed her. He towered over her threatening to tell everyone that she still pissed in the bed and she was almost six. It wasn’t true, but she didn’t say a word.
It was the first of a thousand times she was struck without a sound.
Joe and Rufus left Helen and LuBelle, Ms. Rosie’s fourth or fifth daughter, in charge. The older girls were sneaking into town while Mama and Daddy played cards with Miss Rosie and Mister (no one could remember his name). Helen thought he was alright, but LuBelle said she was glad all of them stayed in one room. She wouldn’t want to be alone with him.
Five times the threat, “you drown in Hanged man and they won’t find your body till it dries out and they pick out the rest of the colored bones.” It worked. They’d all seen the picture of Enmit Till, and that wasn’t but a year ago.
But it was so hot. Helen and LuBelle frowned through the dusty haze at the boys diving into the lake from the bank, spluttering and sinking, but laughing joyously. They were so hot.
They would hold hands.
The bottom of the lake was squishy and cool, and Helen thought she could feel worms beneath her feet wriggling into the mud. She turned to smile at LuBelle, who beamed back. Helen took the next step
And sank. Invisible hands ensnared her neck, tentacles shackled her, gripping her to the bottom of the lake. Hundreds of hanged men leered up at her, skeletal arms reaching out. She struggled, her lungs burning with muddy water.
Then nothing.
No. Not nothing.
LuBelle. LuBelle was there with her, in the lake. Helen could discern her as clearly as if she were viewing her through glass. She looked smoother than she had, and Helen stopped struggling against the water. LeBelle reached for Helen and Helen gripped her icy palms. LuBelle carried Helen to the surface, cradled her firmly in her arms, and it was then that Helen realized, vaguely, that she was still holding LuBelle’s hand–a different LuBelle entirely. Her LuBelle was floating face down in the muddy water. Helen began to struggle, but LuBelle was strong.
Helen knew that it was not LuBelle that held her, but Death.
“Am I going to heaven?”Helen asked. She was not afraid. She was tired. LuBelle shook her head.
“No. I’m not here for you. Not yet.”
The second time she met Death was at Grandaddy’s funeral. She saw him on the front row. He saw her–he was Grandaddy and it made her smile–and he tipped his hat to her.
She smiled harder.
She thought he’d come for Jimmy before her. She didn’t tell anyone, she just assumed. She didn’t think he’d recover from the stroke.
He was not a good man. She would get better, one day. She would choose right.
At Yvette’s funeral she was numb. Yvette had received her letter. She had called and they had talked. Yvette had turned her life to God.
Helen didn’t know what Yvette said to him. She wished she did; part of it was being nosy. But more than that she wanted to know what other people said when they talked to God.
She talked to God about Terence a lot. She didn’t have a favorite child.
But if she did, Terence would be hers.
He protected her.
He was the best part of her life, the only part that she didn’t feel was unfinished. She wondered if she told him that often enough.
Death was there at Yvette’s funeral. Sitting between the kids looking just like their mother. Death turned and stared at Helen and she knew.
It was the equivalent of your life flashing before your eyes. Suddenly everything makes you sick, and when you think about all of the life you thought you’d have time for, all the summers you would never see, you could become overwhelmed and stuck.
There are millions of things–billions of things–you could do with time left. When the clock is running down and Death is kind enough to let you see it, you can go places and see people and do things.

Helen ordered a cake. Teresa and Terence’s birthdays would be months away, but everyone should have a cake on their birthday.
Helen wanted to be there for all of their birthdays, but she would not.
At 45 Helen knew she would not live to see 46.
That morning, her fourth time seeing Death, she visited with him on the porch.
“Death,” she greeted him shortly.
“LuHelen,” Death replied. He smiled at her, and she smiled back. He knew she hated that name.
“I’m 45,” Helen announced. Death nodded without sound.
“But I have lived.” She declared for Death. He did not need her declaration, so he said nothing.
She had. It was not fancy and she would always be poor. But she was rich in love. In the ways they said and more. She had been loved.
Helen had loved, too. It had not been easy on her bones. They were sweet at first and Helen did not like the way she looked for so long…her beauty was tucked away, and yet Death made her relinquish it.
“What will you say to them?” Death asked her. Helen could measure her life in things she should have said.
Rains she should have walked in.
Sunlight she should have bathed in.
Beatings she should have prevented.
She wanted to say, I’m sorry, but there was no one to offer the words to.
“Will they be alright without me,” she asked Death. Death was an old friend and would answer her truthfully.
“No,” Death responded.
Teresa would unravel and would never reach 46.
Lamar would never be one of them.
Nicole would be ground into the hard road, but she would eventually out.
Terence. Terence would disappear, the sweet light that she knew would flicker and it would out. He would sleep for many years. He would miss her with a numbing grief, a blind, desperate longing for that which would be lost.
But he would out, too. Not unscarred, but he would not leave the world untraveled. In this Helen found solace.
She did not ask for an easy road. She wanted a road wide enough for a companion, and peace at the end of the journey.
Hours later Helen found herself cradled in Death’s arms, missing them. She gazed over Death’s shoulders, her promise, “I’ll be on my way” still warming the air where she left it. Death paused and stared down at her, silently asking.
She nodded, once, and with the confidence of old friends, met her eternity.

Barbara Jean

She supposed (at least for awhile) that one could never have too many skirts. They were sensible and well made. They were easy to pack for long trips; this part she assumed, as it had been a long while since she and Vern had taken any trips.
This was Vernon’s fault. Everyone thought it, she knew they did.
It wasn’t even the dementia. He was cold, always. But he wanted things. He wanted to travel. He wanted to spend time with their boys and later their men.
Now she had an empty house (she could not be responsible for him, and besides, he could not remember, but she visited as often as she could) and a hundred skirts she could not wear. Barbara selected gingerly a faded, blue jean skirt. She tugged it over her hips, sighing heavily. She wouldn’t look in the mirror this time. It took so long to put on any foundation–forget the rouge–and somehow looking in the mirror made her face wet.

Vern had looked at her that way, too. That was the worst part. Getting rounder and lower isn’t so bad; it’s not great, but there are worse things.
That cold stare, the unspoken revulsion. It splintered Barbara’s soul.
He wasn’t having an affair now, of course. He did not know who he was, and he would not know to be repulsed by his wife. He had affairs when he was younger–several. One called once. What was her name? Barbara tried to remember, but her mind was blank.
The girl called the house just as if it were a movie. Barbara remembers it that way, a low melody playing their silent dinner, the phone startling them. Barbara folding the napkin and placing it on the left side of the plate, then the right. Barbara plucking the phone from the receiver, lifting it to her ear. Barbara not having the chance to say “hello,” because the woman (clearly much younger than even their youngest boy) began crying. The name “Vern” laced with “love” and “leave” was cast out at Barbara like a fist; she crumbled under the weight.
Vern was there, Barbara sees now. He stood sternly, pulling the phone from her hand. He listened for a few moments before barking, “do not call me here.” He hung up without a goodbye. He stepped over Barbara and took his place at the head of the table.
The boys and Vern looked on. Barbara could see even then the very clear choices she could make.
She pulled herself up heavily, narrowing her eyes at Vern.
She righted herself, lengthening her spine.
“After sinner–dinner we’ll have cookies. I’ve forgotten the milk.” She sat at her place on the opposite end, her face burning. She was glad then that her face was dark enough to hide her embarrassment, wondering if the girl from the phone blushed. She wondered if Vern liked it.
Vern offered no explanation and Barbara did not request one. Vern was not violent, but he was cruel. She thought, often, that the cruelty was worse.
He did not apologize and Barbara didn’t even leave the bedroom that time.
Or even the next two. Vern did not hide them, and Barbara pretended not to care.
When Jon left, she left. The house was already cool, and the spare bedroom was much warmer. It was a sensible move. For a moment Barbara wondered if Vern would ask her back.
He never did.
Their vacations did not taper off. They stopped abruptly, mid-sentence. One year they went down to one of the Carolina’s–North? And the next Vern purchased a new subscription to the local paper and a membership to the country club for each of them, but did not plan the trip.
Barbara wonders now if she should have. Vern did those things and she would not have known how. It would not have been proper, and besides, what would people think?
With trembling hands she pours cream into her coffee, counting out eight sugar cubes. No one would walk through the door to stop her, but she looked over her shoulder as she stirred, just in case.
She glanced at the clock on the wall and waited. Intuitively it rang, shrilly and metallic in the small room. She picked up the receiver and spoke, “Good morning, Jon.”
This was their routine. Jon, her youngest, calling to check on her. This was his way.
He loved her. Usually they spoke about their plans or a funny story they had heard.
Today she thought of his daughter. Not the oldest. She was in Pittsburg and would be home for Christmas. She thought of the other.
The one they didn’t mention.
She wasn’t dead. Barbara knew that sometimes families didn’t mention the ones who died.
In the beginning she wished that she had never been, but she never told anyone.
She didn’t even think God knew.
Barbara rifled through her memory, but she could not remember the last time her eyes touched his other daughter. In her mind the girl was still a child, but that wouldn’t be right.
She would be a woman now.
Barbara wondered if the girl hated her. She supposed that this was a bit presumptuous, to think that the girl would remember her.
She did not hate Jon’s daughter. She was just…a nuisance. A forgotten thing that, once remembered, drained and beat you. Barbara’s life was large by anyone’s standards and there was simply no room for the other girl. Barbara tried to leave the thoughts, but they followed her.
There were so many spaces to be filled there, so many unaccounted for pieces in this puzzle that Barbara had created. Barbara had always hated the mother–that was still true. The mother was just so right. Always so right.
And better. She didn’t say it. But it was there, in her eyes. She looked at you as if she knew you. She knew what terrible things you thought. She would tell you what she thought and no one checked her. She had freedom and she was a new woman.
She was nothing like Barbara.
Barbara thought of the conversation she had years ago, when Jon wondered if he was wrong.
She told him he had done all he could. “You can’t do anything. Her mother is crazy. You’ve done everything.” Barbara’s voice soothed him. Barbara’s lie sated him.
But there was the nuisance. She existed out there. Barbara’s friends did not know. Family had forgotten. She told them that it was the mother–crazy. Took her all the way to Georgia. Changed her number.
Barbara swallowed heavily. The burden of the lie lay at the forefront of her mind and she could not release it.
“I’m tired,” she offered Jon. He replied as she hung up the phone.
She entered the bedroom again, ready to discard the skirt. She did so.
She stood in front of the mirror, transfixed.
Her reflection wore a skirt.
Her reflection was her. . . And not her.
Her reflection spoke.
“Why?” In the back of her mind Barbara considered the absurdity of this. She considered that she was finally going crazy. Vern didn’t like animals, so she didn’t even have a brave dog that they speak about in the news, one who would call the emergency services when she invariably passed out and did not awaken.
And yet she answered, “why what?”
“Why did you think about her now?” Her reflection demanded.
Barbara responded with a question. “Who are you? Am I dying?”
“Yes,” her reflection replied. It did not mince words. It was cold and unsmiling.
And her.
“Why do you look like me,” Barbara asked Death. Death did not answer.
“What if I’m not ready?” Barbara asked. Her reflection–Death–stared into her, unwavering.
“Make yourself ready.” Barbara blinked and Death was gone.
People thought of her as a good person. She was a good person. She wasn’t perfect but she was good.
In her mind the words turned to sawdust and were meaningless.
She formed an apology, an explanation, but nothing came.
Death returned. Death returned while the words, “I’m proud of you” hung on Barbara’s lips, while they stood around and begged her to stay. She prayed the words off and she left.
A thousand miles away the girl, now a woman, felt an unfamiliar chill cross her cheek.

Death and Mr. White

Mr. White had stopped smoking back in ’85, when the first grand girl was born. It wasn’t because of the grand girl–she lived in Kansas and would only be seen every other Christmas. Sandy had bought him a coat for Christmas that year–camel? Had searched the city for it. She had always wanted it for him, but he could not figure out why. She bought the coat and he dropped the cigarette on it. It wasn’t the fault of the cigarette of course; it was that or the glass of scotch, and the sacrifice of the cigarette seemed obvious.

The Yarborough’s were having their Holiday party and their obnoxious music was only surpassed in stupidity by their sweaters, the noise of the crowd almost oppressive, but still. Sandy seemed to hear the whisper of the fabric above the cacophony of meaningless chatter as it the fur sizzled and died away. She materialized before him, fixed him with his ex-wife’s doe eyes before she vanished, tears in her wake.
He picked up the cigarette, made certain it was out and for many years did not light another.

Two years ago he picked the habit up again, as easily as he used to collect the paper. Griffin was in the hospital room just beyond the window, his body still warm but the Griffin he knew long absent. He wanted to think about other things and not the loneliness. How strange it was to be the last of the old guard not faded away. He imagined he felt Griffin’s soul pass him on his way out and it scared him a bit. So he stepped into the hall and walked out. A woman squinted into the sun and did not look down at him. He watched her, though, and she felt his eyes. She let the smoke curl about her face twice more before offering him a cigarette wordlessly. He accepted with a nod of his head that she did not care to see.

He smokes a pipe now, as he relaxes on the park bench. A woman sat there before he, and the bench is still warm from her. When he arrived he hobbled before her–although he did not normally do so, he was quite capable for eight-and-a-half decades–and she leapt to her feet apologetically.
As Mr. White tugs the smoke into his lungs he considers her haste and its cause. He decides that he was not dishonest–her guilt is her own affair. And besides–she should probably be on her way.

A speck of tobacco settles onto his tongue, and Mr. White plucks it away, staring down at it before wiping it onto his pants.
Ruby would be furious if she saw, but then she has been furious for awhile. That is her way. He wonders if she and Sandy will ever get along. Sixty-four years had not settled their mutual animosity, but he always held out hope. Ruby would never be her mother, but he had hoped…
The tobacco burns down as he contemplates her. Sandy.

He thought that he did right by her. He’s certain he did. What does a girl need? Food. Shelter. Comfort. He made certain she had an abundance of each.
She isn’t a girl anymore, but when she was he was gone. She doesn’t remember the nights he came home late. In her memory there is a gap where he should have been. She doesn’t remember him whispering stories to her or smoothing her hair.
He told her he loved her, he swears that he did, but he only said the words to the dark.
Into the dark was not enough.
He sat between them at the breakfast table, Ruby staring sternly ahead–“the breakfast table is for eating, and we do not speak while we are eating”--Sandy defiantly humming to herself. Often he felt “I love you” bubbling up, a sickness desperate to relieve itself, but the room was too cold to receive his words.
So he did not say them aloud.

The shadow of Mr. White’s thoughts is matched by the shadow that falls over the bench. He draws his cardigan tighter over his shoulders, bristling at his own involuntary reaction. He glances at the man to whom the shadow belongs, but the man’s words stop his assessment.
“How often do you come here?”
A strange question formed from the lips of a stranger, but Mr. White feels compelled to answer.
“Almost every day now.” The man beside Mr. White is silent, a still, unnatural silent.
“When will you leave?” The man asks carefully. Mr. White considers the question for longer than he should.
He could leave now, he supposes, but Ruby would not be home and it would be lonely. He could meet Sandy for lunch, but she would ask about the appointment, and she would sense the paper in his pocket in the same way she sensed the hole in the camel jacket.
She had that way about her, the ability to sniff out the mundane. She would not consider this mundane. She would be angry with him.
She would blame him. Why didn’t he do this thing that she said he should do? Why did he spend so many years here in the middle of the country?
She would look at the barn that they were to convert years ago and the dust settled on the RV and the passports that expired last winter. She would hurt, a palpable hurt, because this is not how she envisioned this.
After the blame and hurt she would be afraid. She would be like a child again and he would not have the energy to raise her again. He isn’t certain he did the job right the first time, although she turned out beautifully. He should tell her that. He should tell her that she’s beautiful.
“In a few,” he responds to the man. The man seems to wait for his answer. Mr. White feels that the man would wait for forever, if required.

Of course, he is no man.

Mr. White turns to stare upon him. He stares back.
It is as if looking into a mirror. He looks as Mr. White looks, and more.
He looks healthy and strong and well-traveled. He has the lips of one who has said “I Love You,” perhaps even too much, the lips of one who kissed the grands just this morning.
His hair is an earned gray, dusted by sun and rain and snowmen. His legs are stiff from horse and doggie and an errant game of hide and seek.
Mr. White sees Sandy is his eyes, and Ruby too. Even here they are not perfect. But the words were spoken, haltingly and at the wrong time. He gave them to them in disrepair, yet they discerned his meaning.
Mr. White imagined Death many times. He envisioned many forms. He did not anticipate his jealousy, how angry death would make him.
“I’m not ready,” Mr. White declares.
“Aren’t you?” Death replies.
Mr. White is uncomfortable, more uncomfortable than he’s been in a long while. A warmth settles over him, and he knows that the warmth belongs to Death. It is different than he imagined.
More comfortable and soft.
“Can I ask you a question?” Mr. White asks.
“Ask,” Death answers.
“Why are you here?” Mr. White demands.
“You sent for me,” Death demures.
Mr. White ponders this. Did he? Certainly he was exhausted–the business of dying is exhausting. Every night he imagined two things–Ruby discovering a paper that he did not shred, somehow reading between the lines and discerning the winding down of the time he was given. The second imagining is always death–cloaked and grave, sweeping him from his body with a well hewn scythe blade.
Yet he did what he could to avoid both of those, he is sure. He kissed Ruby just this morning, and she seemed to warm to it. They are not happy–happiness left years before, but they are comfortable and at his age comfort is more than most people expect.
He shuddered when he considered every sunrise might be the last he laid his eyes upon–surely he did not long for death.
Death must be mistaken.
“I didn’t,” Mr. White assures Death. Death stares into Mr. White, unmoved.
“Then send me away.” Death commands. Mr. White moves his lips, but the words will not out.
Mr. White stands abruptly. He makes his way to the entrance of the park before turning. He can discern only Death’s shape from a distance, but he knows that Death’s unseeing eyes are focused on him. Mr. White returns to the bench.
“I don’t want you to follow me.” Mr. White declares.
“Why would I have to follow you?” Death asks.
“Why do you look like me?” Mr. White asks.
Death stares again into Mr. White, but he offers no answer.
“I want to see Sandy first.” Mr. White states.
“Why?” Death asks.
Again Mr. White considers Death’s question.
“I want to tell her that I love her.” Even to his aged ear Mr. White knows that his response sounds flat.
Mr. White opens his mouth to pose another question, but a sharp pain dulls his senses and stops him.
When the pain passes he gazes at Death, his face so sure and clear.
“Will they be alright without me?” Mr. White asks. Death gazes at Mr. White, but again he does not answer.
“Is it wrong for me to want to go?” Mr. White asks.
Death pauses before replying. “You were always on your way to this moment.”
They will miss him. They will be angry with him. Sandy most of all.
He wishes he could send words to her, but there are none.
Mr. White is selfish, he has always considered himself so. In death he had hoped it would be different, he hoped that his life would be laid out linear and bare, and the essence of who he was would be picked through and presented to those he left behind.
He turns to tell Death that he is ready, but he finds himself alone.
Dinner is with Sandy and Ruby. They do not speak to him. He considers telling them, but there are no words. There were never enough words.
At the door he pulls Sandy to him. She stiffens in his grasp, but she at least does not pull away.
He says, “I love you,” but only in his grip and in his eyes. He hopes she can understand.
Selfishly he is glad that he will not be required to witness the depth of her anger and despair.
When Ruby goes to bed in her room Death is there in his room, waiting for him.
Mr. White felt brave and well-lived as he pulled Death to him, and as he began to chill he considered Death’s familiarity and comfort. How close Death had been all the while. How sweet it felt to close his own eyes, and draw himself into eternal sleep.

lists

Together we make lists.
*Christmas
(Holiday, I’m agnostic now)
*Invitations
*Thank you’s
*Repairs
*Gifts
I hide the list I created on stained notebook paper. Crumbs clung to it, and the words were constructed on pencil nubs and dried peanut butter.
Beneath an oil stain are the words, “you never hear me.”
Aloud I say, “We should make a list of things we need to buy. For the Holiday decorations.” I tear my eyes from the frosted pane and I focus on you. You raise a brow and offer “Christmas,” but you barely devote to it a breath, so it sounds more a sigh, and then you fall silent.
I wait for your voice to begin again but you give no answer. I sigh, heavily, and my heart flutters. I consider telling you, but you will not hear me. I resign myself to death, and I buckle under its weight.
I add this to my list, “you don’t talk to me.
Later you press your body near to me, wanting, and I pretend to sleep.
I draw the blankets over me when your breath softens, and I am careful to avoid your skin. You are too cold to touch at night.
I’m in the middle of a meeting at work only I am also miles away when I consider that you might be having an affair.
It is very matter of fact in my mind, this affair you are engaging in. She wants more. You are afraid to leave and lose the kids. I am not hurt by your affair, but rather, relieved.
I wonder if I would be so bold? I glance around the office, but there is no one, and besides, I want someone to talk to.
Although a daytime caress would be nice.
I make a list of the reasons, but I only have two:
*I want this
*I want someone to hear me

You make a grocery list and you include all of the foods I hate. I yell.
My voice echoes through the cold house and sticks, somewhere. I’m not certain where, but I can hear my words thrown back to me. They come out when you are sleeping and they settle in the gap between us.
I tell you that I’m unhappy and also agnostic and you say I am neither.
I tell you that I think you are having an affair and you look up, finally. But it was only to gaze past me–you thought the car turning around in the drive looked familiar. You tell me that you don’t have the time for an affair.
“I would have an affair if I could,” I announce. You smile but you do not answer.

My affair is long and we never undress. I ask him a question and he answers. Later he gives me an alternate answer that I didn’t ask for.
I call him when Grandmother dies and I cry on the phone. It is only when you call that I think of calling you.
I imagine him above me
and beneath.
I feel guilty, and I keep him from you. You do not know he exists, and he is my secret to keep. I erase the evidence from my phone, though you would not care to look.
I talk to him about you and I want him to ask me to leave. He doesn’t and I don’t.

My blood stains the carpet beneath the Christmas tree, and you get the cloth and spray. I clean my finger on my own.
I text him, “happy new year” and he replies immediately. “Happy New Year. Where are you?”
I peer at you. You are sleeping soundly on the couch, an empty bottle clutched in your hand. From my bag I pull the list and place it on the table beside you, the beer bottles encircling the paper.
I hope you read it tomorrow.
My keys pierce my hand and I sit for hours in the car before leaving the drive. He is beneath when the phone rings with the tone reserved for you, twice.
I wonder if I should answer.