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They Come Unannounced 

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When I saw him, the boy whose face wraps around my “#1 Mom” mug, I thought it was just my imagination. I guess with everyone appearing out of nowhere, it makes sense that I would create the person I wanted most. But he’s really here, sitting in still air. His eyes run in circles. Away from mine. He doesn’t say much. I speak to fill the gap between us. I tell him about the dead people.

They started appearing out of nowhere, the dead people. I’m not the only one who sees them. This is not one of those stories. I guess someone far away decided to give them back. I’m not sure why. Sometimes I’ll be walking down the sidewalk in front of our empty house, empty but for me, and a figure will fade into view. No wild gust of wind or a scream announcing an arrival. It’s not like the movies. I remember meeting the woman who lived next door for the second time. She wore that dusty-blue dress and her cheeks were still blushed lively red from the funeral.

“Oh, dear. I didn’t notice you. Am I really here? It’s been so long.”

She placed her hand on my shoulder, almost to comfort both of us. She was really there, but her hand was cold. Winter must have crept through those six feet and laid across her body in sleep.

“Where are we? This doesn’t look like our street.”

You’re in front of my home. What’s left of it, at least. It looks the same from here but, inside, it’s less. I’ve heard about you on the news. All around the world people are showing up. No one’s sure what’s going on, or what it means. And then she walked away. I walked away, too. We didn’t walk together.

But, now, having another beating heart in this kitchen is strange. I heard his familiar sigh before I saw him. I found him in the kitchen this morning, looking through the new contents of my fridge.

His eyes finally land on mine. His deep brown gaze is the converter of an absent voice. Even after all these years, I can still hear his thoughts through the thick silence in which he wraps himself.

I think about asking him why he left. He chose to do it. His neck grins purple and blue to prove it.

Instead, I let him be quiet. He doesn’t need to speak. This is our happiness. A frightening happiness, but happiness nonetheless.

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Adam Bieda is a Chicago native and current Boston University student. He has written for local publications in the Chicago suburbs. Adam also writes and performs with Boston University’s sketch comedy group Slow Children at Play.

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