“The temperature dropped on Friday and ever since then I’ve been cold. But not the skin deep kind of cold, you know? It’s like something deep inside me froze and I’ve been breathing frost ever since.” Charlotte didn’t look at me as she said this, even as she handed me the next cup to dry.
“By Saturday I had to pull out my blankets and jacket just to keep myself from freezing over.” Her hands stopped moving in the sink. Her eyes staring out the window seem to take a forlorn look as though she was watching some bittersweet memory in the sky. I had been staying over at her place for the past two nights. Ever since she came back from her accident. Her family couldn’t afford to take her in but they also couldn’t afford to send her to the ER again if something happened. So they hired me as a stay at home nurse. Charlotte had been so sweet, so open to me. I wondered how long she had been living alone.
“I found his sweater,” she said. Her words were soft, private. I asked her to repeat them. “You know, the one with a red and yellow knit snowflakes with my name on the back? I didn’t even realize how bad of a knitter he was.” She lost me. I had never seen this sweater. She didn’t even seem to be talking to me now but rather to memory she was holding in the sky.
“To be honest I thought about putting it on. Just to, I don’t know, feel him again? But when I picked up the sweater I couldn’t bring myself to do it.” She held on to the words I couldn't, repeating it a few times to herself like a mantra. She turned back to the dishes, and started scrubbing hard at the pan. From the corner of my eye I noticed a small porcelain koi sitting on the windowpane.
“I think I was scared to.” Charlotte said, scrubbing even harder at the pan. I couldn’t even see the burn marks over the pile of soap sub she was making.
“He was so warm, you know? I remember we used to hold hands in bed. My hands were always cold, so when I grabbed his it would like grabbing fire. We used to look into each other’s eyes as we did this and just feel our hand temperatures equalize. Slowly, slowly, slowly, I would feel my hand melt in his, like snow in the sun. It was—“ She stopped scrubbing the pan. Outside a garbage truck was passing by stopping at every house, breaking up the peaceful solitude of the suburban neighborhood. Charlotte turned to me. Her eyes registered me now.
“Well, I guess it doesn’t matter anymore," she said, rinsing the pan.
"But wait, who was this?" I asked, upset that she ended her story so early. Charlotte wiped the pan dry with a dish towel and then put it away before she answered me. "Oh, just some boy I used to know.”