They scare me. Give me blizzards but not a blue day with a ground of ice and a T-Rex bite to the air. She enters the kitchen in a white tank and short shorts. The slink of corn flakes into her bowl stings. The stillness gets me most of all: inescapable frost that digs the face when shoveling out a pickup bed or packing tools to fix some old fart’s frozen pipes. She has her mother’s skin, clear with dapples around the crest of her nose and tops of her shoulders, and my yellow teeth. We talk to each other (I don’t want to make it sound like we live in silence) but we don’t say much. Except for the storms. Like the prom night. At 2 when I woke to a broken bathroom mirror and her with fists bloody and an eye black: fists from the mirror, I never found out about the eye. But she cried on me that night. Mascara staining shoulders of my shirt a deep violet black. Her tears were torrents and I was there. She told me she hated me and she hated that mother was gone and I was there. She told me she loved me anyway and I was there. At 4 I made Denver omelets and some strong coffee. She skipped volleyball practice and told me jokes.

         —Jenna giving you a ride?

         —No.

         —Bus?

         —Yeah.

         —It’s cold out.

         —I know it.

         —Susie, I could take you. Lemme get the truck warming.

         —No.

         She stands at the bottom of the driveway, balling fists inside her gloves because the fingers are too thin.

 

by Aaron Bauer

 

Aaron Bauer lives in Colorado and received his MFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His work has recently appeared in Prism Review, Spillway, Superstition Review, and many other journals. Also, he has served as Editor for Permafrost and is a Contributing-Editor for PoemoftheWeek.org

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