Winter, 1979, The Coldest in Recent MemoryLeigh Stein
Theoretically, I was held by a man in Detroit at gunpoint. Theoretically, he let me go. I have not told this story to you before. I only tell you now for two reasons. One: you're not from Michigan. Two: I have searched for his scar along your neck and, so far, no luck. They said to wear my purse beneath my coat and pretend it was a baby if anybody asked me and they might but they probably would not try and take it. They said the average memory span for normal adults is seven items. Let me differentiate between the two. I used to tell this story about Tristan and Dolores, who I left in the rain every time. I made them break blue glass with their back teeth. Dolores would say, I am half sick of shadows, as the waves came up from the storm tossed sea. Try telling this story to a man with a gun. Sorry to interrupt, he said, but do you know the one about the woman who was rolled up like a snowman and left until the thaw? No, I said. That was me, he said. I don’t believe you, I said, and then he told me to keep my hands above my head. The snow had begun to fall then in the deep stillness before the streets were plowed and salted; a car passed us and fishtailed ahead at the stoplight; I forgot the ending, so I pushed my characters in front of a train. The man with the gun didn’t like that at all. How was there a train at the beach? Maybe they left the beach, I said. Should they go on vacation instead? The man said, What if they went in front of the train, but the train stopped in time. Good idea, I said. He read my name off my drivers license and I didn’t correct his pronunciation; then he told me to close my eyes and I felt something cold hit my head. My heart stopped a little bit. When I opened my eyes, he was gone. There was a snowball at my feet. Where did you say you were from again? I just wanted to unbutton your collar and see for myself.
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