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To o S m a l l f o r T h i s Miranda Freeman

H

is voice had never sounded so cold. Not cold like cruel or distant, no. Cold as if one of the icicles descending from the branch above him had plunged down his throat and into his trembling lungs. He is sitting cross-legged on the ground, the snow rising higher around his bare legs with each passing second. A puff of frozen air spasms out of his mouth with every exhalation. There’s no one around for miles, and I know it. This was supposed to be one of the perks of moving up to the mountains—escaping the angry honking on Sunset Boulevard in favor of quiet nights spent reading together in front of the fireplace. Now, it seems like a recipe for a death that never even makes it to the papers. “West,” I say, sinking down to the forest floor. This is his name. Not East or North, but West. I think I knew we would be married the second he first introduced himself. His eyes shift upward to meet my gaze, but he doesn’t say anything. Perhaps he no longer can. “West,” I repeat. Calmly, because it is one of the only adverbs that won’t send him into a spiral of frustration and resentment. “We need to get you back in the house.” A minute shake of his head. I feel the tears brewing, but I try to keep them at bay. Crying is for a person who does not have the immediate responsibility of ensuring her husband does not perish in the forest. But I cannot run the mile back to the house, locate my cell phone, and drive down the winding road until the X in the upper corner of my phone evolves 64

into that single bar of hope. Because if I leave West to call an ambulance, there is a good chance he will take the opportunity to wade even further into the silence of the woods. And with the fresh snow plummeting down from above, I fear I may not be able to find him again. I will add this to the list of reasons why I do not favor winter. “Please,” I say. My voice cracks into a million pieces, like a mirror dropped from a second-story window. This time he does not answer. I have tried to understand West for almost every minute of the six years I have known him. It is difficult. He is the majestic lion jailed in an enclosure that is too small for him, and all I have is a ticket to the zoo. He is depressed, and I try to understand that. I read books and blog posts. I make therapy appointments that he occasionally keeps. I order the model ships he enjoyed building as a child. These things are not the right things. “My darling,” I say. “Come with me, please. Tomorrow will be better.” Though, of course, I cannot promise this will be so. I shrug off my heavy coat and drape it around his shoulders. It is too small for him, but I am able to stuff his arms into the sleeves with moderate success. If not for the wisps of frozen air exiting his mouth, I would not be certain that he is still alive. I circle behind him and thrust my arms beneath his axillae. After a deep breath, I heave upward. His body rises two inches off the ground before sinking back into the snow. I am too small for this, just as I

Profile for Apeiron Review

Apeiron Review | Summer 2015  

The summer issue of Apeiron Review, a Philadelphia-based literary magazine, is ready for you and a glass of your favorite beverage. Cool off...

Apeiron Review | Summer 2015  

The summer issue of Apeiron Review, a Philadelphia-based literary magazine, is ready for you and a glass of your favorite beverage. Cool off...