What is more concerning, he was thinking, was the space between us and our religion which governs us. He was setting the votives carefully along the stairs and praying quietly. A sense of mania surrounded him but it was muted, almost invisible. Like an electric fence he wore with snicker and paranoia, only he could feel when he stepped too far outside the perimeter and was roped back in by pain. He was careless in general but cautious with people. Dusk had brought a snowstorm and the blizzard had ruined his plans. Many people had cancelled. He paused at the top of the stairs. Each step was lit with an alternating white and black candle.

“You’re living in a fantasy,” Sophia shouted before she slammed the front door.
“It’s not a fantasy. It’s the past,” he said out loud, now, long after she was gone, before swallowing the last of his beer.

He moved into the living room and looked out the bay window with some furtive longing he masked with his budding alcoholism, his apathy at his friends’ choices, his dismissal of everyone. He was lonely.

“I’m lonely,” he said.

Tonight he was being decisive: which candles to set, where to place them, who to invite. This filled him with a sense of purpose but the depression swallowed him regardless. It was winter, six pm and the sky was black as death outside. Already six inches on the ground, the weather predicted a foot more by midnight. No one is coming. The burgundy filled him by four and he was into the beer quickly after that. I have given up already. He had given up already. He continued to light the candles, to set the ambience even though he knew. David was the last one and he cancelled too.

“We just don’t feel safe driving,” his phone blinked.

Sophia’s face danced on the pane in front of him but he didn’t reach for that. He stood stoic; numbed by the alcohol, frozen by the climate, taken by the idea of it all. No one else was home on his block when he heard the knock.


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