The air hit the base of my throat, icy fingers digging into the only flesh left uncovered by layer on layer of wool spun by decades of abandonment. The cold grabbed my jaw and forced its fingers into my mouth, digging around irregular, neglected teeth before finding one free of rot and wrenching it out of the gum

pay what you owe for leaving them behind

 I never knew that you could drown in air when it turns into wind, until it rushed up my flared nostrils and displaced the last breaths I took in a place where life smells like burning rubber and roasted corn

Here, the cold curls up inside of me, lying next to my skeleton before pushing it out bone by bone and sitting there triumphantly legs tucked under itself, digging into my sides with its sharp elbows

I have taken the space you should have kept for them

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