Winter

It’s in those moments that she feels him the most — the moments when her breathing slows, and her teeth stop chattering and her skin goes from tingling to numb and the world feels like it is standing still and that if she even breathes she will ruin it.

The Oldest

If he wakes up and the moon is still outside his window, he whispers and rolls them along his dresser, reminding them to move quietly because it’s still too early to be awake. Sometimes he tries to coax them back to bed and they all fall asleep on the floor of his closet or in front of his bookshelf.

The Zoo

He watches them pick through plastic plates piled with fruits and vegetables. A small, long-haired monkey grabs a piece of banana and nibbles the soft part. He wonders if the monkey would also like a pouch of baby food, but neither his mom nor his dad thinks to offer him one.

The Vacation

The baby laughs at the water as he scoops it in his hands and brings it to his mouth like he is about to take a sip. She shakes her head as he looks at her, smiling, and lets the water run down the sides of his palms. She has always been able to communicate with him without speaking.

The Fall Kickoff

They bounced and flung their bodies at the nets around the edges of the bounce house. The younger one shouted and stuck his nose against the palm of their mom’s hand. He bounced towards his brother and tackled him. They toppled and laughed, limbs flying everywhere.

The Ending

You smelled like hay and grass and earth. You told me that we were born of different times. It wasn’t untrue, but I wasn’t ready to believe it. Instead, I kissed your shoulder and closed my eyes with the night.

The Small Things

They move like they are afraid of stillness, afraid that if they are still, their muscles and joints will fuse together and cease to work. Their shouts feel like home and when they are quiet, they are doing something they aren’t supposed to be doing.

The Apartment

The air outside smells cold and crisp and hurts her lungs in a way that makes her want to run forever. She can hear her heart in her footsteps and the sound of the world around her waking up and by the time she gets home, her side aches and her throat feels raw, like she has been sucking on something sharp.

The Museum

She imagines their claws and their footprints and their breath against her face. She imagines the way their voices must have bounced off the earth like thunder. She feels like if she listens hard enough she might hear their hearts still beating through their bones.

The Festival

When you move through the crowd, I pretend there is an invisible rope that tethers our two bodies together. I pretend that I would feel it if you were suddenly missing.

The Things She Knows

When he smiled, he looked into her eyes, and she wanted to grab his hand and kiss every one of his fingertips. Sometimes at night, she pretends that he is sitting next to her, holding her hand and stroking her knuckles, and asking how her day has been. She wakes up with his voice in her mouth, asking her what she would like to order.

The Family Vacation

At night, moths litter the windows and both her boys press their noses against the glass and tap their fingers against it. They watch as the moths scatter and regroup on the other side.

The Drive

Her headlights bounce across the trees and the slick pavement. She can imagine her car flipping and landing on the side of the road with her body pinned to the seat.

The Last Days of Summer

He grabs a wood chip from the flowerbed and chews on it until it splinters, and his mom makes him spit it out. His brother runs across the lawn, and they both watch the cars drive by. He loves the way the front yard feels like freedom.

The Splintering

She dreamt a man was outside her bedroom door and when she opened it his face was bathed in red light, waiting for her. She screamed and woke up with the sheets twisted around her legs, her husband snoring next to her.

The Things They Loved

They love the curve of the slides, and how the water pushes them down and out and sprays their faces and goes up their noses. They ask their dad to take them down the slides in his lap. They scoop up water in empty cups and throw it at their mom’s legs.

The Superheroes

When the younger one trips, the older one hugs him and kisses the top of his head and whispers soothing words into his ears. He helps him up and they throw their bodies against the headboard, leaving fresh dents in the blue paint.

The Woman Who Couldn't Breathe

He calls out for another hug, but she ignores him and throws herself on the couch, breathing in the quiet. She lays in front of the TV until her eyes hurt and her mouth feels dry. Then, she makes her way to her own bedroom, shimmying out of her jeans and slipping underneath the covers without removing her makeup or washing her face or brushing her teeth.

The Head Start

When she goes upstairs, the older one is waiting for her. There is yarn strewn about the room, knotted together with hangers that he has pulled out of his closet. He smiles and gathers his blankets and his trucks.

The Move

She never wanted to move here, begged for somewhere cooler, where seasons were well defined, and everyone owned thick winter coats and rubber boots to protect their feet from the snow. Here, it’s hot and humid and her hair curls at her temples. She can feel a sheen of sweat bead across the bridge of her nose as soon as she steps outside.