Feathers From the Sky(4)

By: Posy Roberts

“Thanks. Are you really ready for this?”

I had to be. “Yep. It’s time.”

“Love you.”

“I love you too,” I whispered down the line before I heard it disconnect.

The screen door slammed behind me and startled me, nearly sending my heart through my chest because of how loud it was in the blanket of snowy quiet.

“Whatcha doing?” Justine asked. She was three years younger than me.

“Just shoveling. I was going to go to the liquor store after that.”

“Oh good! Can I come too?”

I’d really wanted to go alone, but I found myself nodding. “I was going to walk, though.”

“Are you fucking crazy? That’s like six miles there and back. Let’s drive. I’ll even drive, if you want.”

“Fine,” I agreed. “We’ll drive.” I could always go on a walk with no purpose aside from searching for quietude.

“So, who were you talking to on the phone?” she asked.

“It was Philip.”

“Cool. What’s going on in his life lately?”

My family knew we were living together, but they all assumed we were roommates. I’d never clarified our relationship for them and had been happy for them to live in ignorance for the last sixteen months. For those of my siblings who had been to our place for an afternoon or evening (never overnight), they didn’t question anything because our bedroom was upstairs in our apartment. There’d never been a need for them to go up there to see that one bedroom had a king-size bed, and the other one was an office. They’d just assumed we each had a bedroom. There were photos of us around the main level of the apartment, even a few of us with our arms around each other, but we’d reserved anything too intimate for our bedroom or office.

Philip and I had been together for nearly three years, and I was tired of hiding. I was tired of hiding large parts of our relationship, but mostly I was tired of hiding how much I loved that man.

“Did you hear me?” Justine asked. “I said, what’s going on in Philip’s life lately?”

“He just got back from Tokyo.”

“He spent Christmas in Tokyo?” she asked as if it were the strangest concept in the world.

“Yep. That’s where his parents were, and he wanted to spend the holiday with them.” Because I was here, I left unsaid.

“He’s had the most interesting life, from the stories I’ve heard.”

“He’s probably traveled more in the last twenty-five years than I ever will.”

“Come on, then,” Justine said with a smile. “Let’s get the rest of this shoveling done so we can go buy some beer and wine.”

It didn’t take long once Corey joined us. Every walking surface around the entire house was cleared off, including the back patio. We dug the cars out that were parked on the street where the snowplow had buried them. Now people could drive when they wanted to leave the house, not that there was anything to do in town. I even shoveled a path out to the woodpile so we could easily chop and haul wood inside to the wood-burning stove. Then Justine and I drove out toward the interstate to pick up several options for people to drink. The house had been dry for two days, except for the nasty spirits probably left over from the 1970s. So when we arrived with the bottles in hand, my older siblings and their spouses practically cheered. It seemed I wasn’t the only one who’d wanted something to help him relax.

“Do you still want that hot chocolate?” my mom asked, and I decided to take her up on it. Everyone else of age was cracking open beer bottles. Considering Philip was going to be there in a few hours, I decided to skip the alcohol.

It was strange how much less noise there was after everyone had one drink in them. They were all less uptight. Dad had even decided to put some mellow music on his ancient stereo. It was folk music, and the scratchy sound of his records made me smile as I took my empty mug into the kitchen and set it in the sudsy water in the sink. That sound reminded me of being a kid.

“I’m gonna go put some color in my hair,” I said to my mom. “Where are the old towels?”

“I’ll get you one.”

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