Bitter Cold

The house was bitter cold.

It had been that way since the night Nathan died.

She couldn’t get warm. She cranked the thermostat up to seventy-five, then raised it again. Tremors ran through her body, cold seeping into every bone.

She lit the pellet stove and curled up on the couch. The TV flickered from across the room, the volume low. Nathan liked it turned up full blast and she’d hated that. It made her ears ache and her head feel under assault.

Now, she increased the volume, just to make it seem as if Nathan were still with her.

Instead, the cold felt like she was in the grave with him.

Before bed, she put on leggings and a long-sleeved T-shirt. She covered the hems of the leggings with thick wool socks pulled on over her thin cotton ones. She put on a sweatshirt and a knit cap.

She crawled beneath the blankets, pulling the down-filled comforter up to the edge of her cap.

Sleep came slowly.

The sound of the TV blaring background noise from a movie ripped through a murky, disturbing dream. She threw off the covers and ran downstairs. She grabbed the remote, both hands shaking so badly she had trouble pressing the power button. She was sure she’d turned it off before bed.

The room was still cold. She shivered, her entire body convulsing. She would never be warm again. If her grief for Nathan turned to tears, they would freeze into diamonds, glittering on her cheeks and blurring her vision forever.

She turned toward the stairs and flicked off the overhead light.

As she took a step, something soft brushed across her cheek. Now, she began to cry and her body grew warm and moist.

She longed for the bitter cold.

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