December 6

The first time I meet the daughter, we’re eating grocery store sushi—in fact, we’re eating it in the grocery store, under dim fluorescent lights, next to a window looking out on the falling dark of early autumn. Our reflections take shape in the window as the dark grows.

not a family anymore
all at once
the geese rise

The nine-year-old is suspicious of me; she doesn’t have any more idea than I do what I’m doing here. I’ve forgotten how to make conversation with a nine-year-old. I keep asking her the annoying, dumb grown-up questions I swore I would never ask and she keeps giving me the annoying, dumb answers I deserve. To add insult to injury, both she and her father are more proficient with their chopsticks than I am.

fumbling for my pepper spray the way leaves redden

Hoping for distraction, we open our fortune cookies, but none of the futures we find there are even wrong enough to laugh about. Embarrassed, we look away from each other, toward the dark window, where we see only our own blurred reflections, trapped here in the present, forming a wavering triangle.

not the underworld
just the silence
of no more cicadas

“What are we doing next?” she asks, and her father, crumpling his fortune, tells her, “Your guess is as good as mine.”

unearthing potatoes it will only get colder

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