“Look, you can’t go back out there. It’s curfew and even if you tell them you are just walking home they may not believe you.”
“I thought curfew was at eleven.”
He waved his hands, “I don’t know but I just heard the sirens and the storm is getting bad. Probably precaution. Anyone out now won’t make it if they are far from home.”
And the thing that breaks you is the synthesis of all of it.
“Let’s move into the living room,” he began to stand up.
And the thing that stuns you is the words. The pragmatic formation of sentences meant to protect. Facts.
“I have a fireplace,” he extends his hand towards me.
And the hiss that you repress to remain cordial as your chest cracks in half. I take his hand. I grew up in a shack on the outskirts of Norfolk, Virginia that has been slowly weathered by hurricanes over time. My dad sits on the edge of my childhood bed and watches football and eats Hostess cupcakes. The floor is ruined from his cigarette smoke and uncleanliness. It resembles nothing now. Once, it was a shade of dark purple and the ceiling had glow in the dark stars all over that kept me safe in the dark. Any note I had hidden to myself has been found and discarded. My dad keeps mementos of me near, things I have written him or bought him.  He calls me once a week and attends a methadone clinic daily. The whirr of the oxygen tank fills the house when he sleeps. Our house is full of crickets and cockroaches, spiders and sometimes snakes. My dad lives there alone and I know that sometimes he walks into my dead brother’s room to cry. I place my palm firmly in this stranger’s hand. I let him lead me to his fireplace. The first thread has been pulled. The spool has begun to unravel. Theater tonight is a longing and resentment.
But at least we are warm.
I let out a short laugh, like a cough.
“Hmm?” he asks in the doorway of the fancy living room.
“Oh, it will be good to be warm,” I say.
The second siren goes off and he’s right. It’s seven pm, twenty nine degrees and eight days without electricity in this town. Somewhere in Norfolk, an oxygen tank stops and someone pulls their breath from a deep resolve and I too march.

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