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by Kyle Hemmings

Sitting too long in public waiting rooms, train stations breezing with a thousand faceless faces, or in his own rooms coated with a thin dust, he thought of her hands. They were white flowers, erotic sonatas of bone. Considering her hands as both a delicacy and a gift, he grew saddle-sore on sofa cushions, custom-made from dead birds. Her hands tormented him. Her hands played him for a fool. When the heat in her apartment failed, she wore mittens in bed. Everything else was a scam.

It was a cruel winter.

She taught him pain by neglecting him in increasingly longer increments. Her voice messages were reduced to five icy words: Just thought I’d say Hi. He recalled her crazy signatures on his pillow, the too deep curlicues and serifs. They were really his when he slept on the edge of waking up. He wanted to wake up in a different season. He wanted to see her hands and the rest of her. He was tired of remaining numb and snow-blind.

On some days, snow belonged to the Russians or the men with big wheels. Being evanescent, its price was going up. A real commodity for traders who had fur on their tongues. They couldn’t hum a note.

Coming down with a nasty cold, he thought of winter as a revengeful bastard child of North and South Pole, a bipolar mistress who dealt in harsh distances. Why, across the world, Moscow could be burning and no one would send goodwill packages. He now stood below her fifth story window in the 6th Ward — his muffled shouts, inaudible to all but winter ghosts, suspended in frozen air. When would she stop being so frigid? It was the only part of her that was so unmusical. He now realized that he had never owned anything, not even an upright piano, not even a toy xylophone, as a child. He borrowed what could never be his. Under her window, on a block covered in white, scarred with dark footprints belonging to anyone, he froze to death. But some part of him would continue to walk for many years.

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Elimae, SmokeLong Quarterly, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Blaze Vox, Matchbook, and elsewhere. His latest collections of poetry/prose are Future Wars from Another New Calligraphy and Split Brain on Amazon Kindle. He loves ’50s sci-fi movies, manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the ’60s.