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Fiction - page 2

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Photo credit: Sarah Dreyfus

“Ninth month, feels like june,”

your goose coat, fixed-gear bike stops.

What’s under that skin?

 

Covertly shielding

tampon squeezes, oozes through.

Do you see me bleed?

 

Burnt leaves, frosted pond.

Bill flaps, splash; platypus sinks…

is it you who’s brave?

Restroom Review – Dorsey Center First Floor (Aka the Post Office Bathroom)

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Photo credit: Neassa Hunt

By now, I feel like most people have something of a grasp on what I look for in a bathroom. If you don’t, they are as follows:

Privacy: Can I be alone?  

Hours: When is this bathroom open?

Cleanliness: Is this bathroom clean?

Acoustics: Does sound travel in or out of this bathroom?

Decor and/or lighting: Is this bathroom well lit? Do I like what I’m looking at? Do I feel at home?

Hook/Shelf: Does this bathroom have a place for me to put my stuff?

And Extras: Extras can be anything from vending machines to water fountains to a bunch of people playing ping pong around the corner. They were originally only positive things (water fountain) but slowly grew to incorporate negative aspects (like if there IS a water fountain but it’s not very good) and eventually became negative extras as well (ping pong players).

But when I started this, there was a secret ninth aspect that I took into consideration. Now that it’s REALLY starting to get cold, that ninth aspect is important once again, and it’s distance. How far do I have to do go use this bathroom? When it comes down to it, sometimes closer is better. Especially when it’s windy.

That being said, this week is the post office bathroom.

In case you don’t know where this bathroom is, go past the student lockers and make a left. You’ll see a single room gender neutral bathroom, and a multi-stall women’s room. I have no idea where the men’s room is. For the sake of privacy and equality, I will be covering the gender neutral bathroom this week. Although, the women’s room has some interesting extras that I may or may not include (that’s not me teasing information; I’m actually not sure if I’m going to write that part yet).

The post office is VERY private at night and only somewhat private during the day. But because of the way the room is set up (it has a kind of mini hallway INSIDE the room), even on a bad day you can have the illusion of privacy. The room is pretty large even without the hallway, so size is no problem. The decor leaves a lot to be desired. I know a few people on campus who don’t prefer to use this bathroom because it has “basement energy without technically being in a basement,” which is true. It feels a bit like a bathroom in a high school or a government building with the tan painted walls and red tile floor. The acoustics are somewhat lacking (more sound goes out then comes in) but I’m beginning to believe that my way of testing the acoustics isn’t exactly without fault. Even if my methods aren’t the best, it’s still echo-y in there.

Despite having “Basement Energy,” it doesn’t have basement cell service, meaning your phone should work fine. Dorsey is pretty darn clean. These bathrooms are cleaned in the early morning, so the later in the day you use this one, the more you’re risking things. (It’s clean enough that you aren’t really risking much.)

What really stands out to me with this one is the amount of space to place/hang things. There are two hooks on the door and white metal shelf. There are many options for placing things off of the floor. Especially considering this is the bathroom you would be most likely to use after picking up a package, having that shelf is major points in my book.

Anyone who has ever rushed over to get a package you forgotten about in the middle of the night knows that Dorsey isn’t always unlocked. I don’t have an entirely clear grasp on its hours; to write this article, I got in with my OneCard just before 10:30 p.m. But when I needed to get in to see a package the night before at 10:50, it was locked in such a way that my OneCard was of no use to me. So, closing time is somewhere in that 10:30 p.m.-10:50 p.m. range. Opening time is somewhere in the 7:00 a.m.+ range, but I used the upstairs entrance, so it might be a bit off. Dorsey doesn’t provide 24-hour access, but I think that’s a generous enough timeline for both receiving your packages and using its bathrooms.

Lighting was always very important in my original notes on bathrooms, but it eventually became less important and kind of got slotted in with décor. After using the Mary Fisher basement bathroom the other day and finding out that those lights make me look like the goddamned Crypt-Keeper…lighting has become an important factor once again. Dorsey isn’t exactly killing the game with its high school classroom fluorescents, but it has a light switch on the wall and they’re a bit gentler than the Mary Fisher lights were.

Extras: The main attraction is the ability to pick up packages and buy stamps and such from the post office. There are also some vending machines if you, like me, want to make some bad decisions for both your health and your wallet. If you are a woman, then the women’s room next door has some interesting perks for you. There are a variety of interesting soaps and lotions if you would like to wash your hands a second time with something a little extra. Kind of makes me feel like I’m at a Broadway show or mid-range restaurant—it’s nice. Also, if you have a baby or need to pump breast milk, there’s a tiny room in the women’s room for you to do so. (Like, it’s designated as such, and it has a nice chair and a lamp in there.) Extras aren’t necessarily just about the additions that benefit me personally.

I’m very happy with the Dorsey Center gender neutral bathroom and I give it an 8.5/10.

Space Log Day 223

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Photo credit: https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/news/

Good morning.

Last night, I found out something potentially life-changing. Remember how I said that Jake seemed to be semi-regularly stealing from Mr. B, and how Mr. B seemed to be hiding something from me when I visited his office last week?

Turns out Jake and Mr. B have been conspiring. There’s a teeny-tiny little door that Jake found beneath Mr. B’s desk and he went through it. He told me he hoped that it was a hidden food pantry, or something exciting like a laser tag arena (“You’re an idiot,” I told him), but it was just a small, hidden-away room behind Mr. B’s office. But what did he decide to do with it? Make it a clubhouse, a secret refuge from Mrs. S.

Apparently when he told Mr. B about it, Mr. B got quite mad, as a) Jake did not have permission to be in Mr. B’s office at the time, b) Mr. B was not allowed to support us having a place to literally hide from Mrs. S, and c) Mr. B wanted the secret room for himself, as his office is the size of a match box, and this new room would add a few extra square feet.

But then while Mr. B was sleeping in his bunk, Jake snuck in and began decorating it. Also he put a padlock on the door so that Mr. B couldn’t get in. (This is the part where you go ahhhh, and remember that Jake is a delinquent.)

And this was all a few weeks ago, when I didn’t even know about it!!! Jake’s been sneaking into Mr. B’s office to decorate this secret clubhouse almost every night. Of course Mr. B knew, because he’d seen the padlock the next morning, and of course noticed the stream of black paint coming through his office and down the hallway (he is the janitor), but Jake would not submit to any deal Mr. B offered to share the room. So that’s why Jake’s been semi-regularly stealing Mr. B’s vacuum—I never imagined Jake would actually be cleaning with it!—and also why Mr. B was so excited when we made the agreement to leave his office alone, weeks ago when we were convincing him to convince Mrs. S to let us throw a Day 200 party.

So this is absolutely crazy!!!!!! Jake woke me up last night to take me to the newly-finished-decorated secret room. At first I was reluctant as anything to get out of bed, because it was just after 1 in the morning and Mrs. S made us move milk crates of printer paper across the ship from stores into her office, because she prints that much, and if you’ve ever lifted a crate of printer paper, you’d know why I didn’t want to get out of bed. But Jake made me, and it was completely worth it.

The crawl through the tiny door beneath Mr. B’s desk into complete blackness was scary as hell (Jake forgot his flashlight), but when I was about halfway through, Jake flicked on the fairy lights he’d strung across the whole ceiling. He said he found them in Zara Hemmings’ suitcase, probably to decorate her bunk with, but he figured she wouldn’t mind him stealing them once he showed her the secret room.

Jake’s decorations were incredible, considering that he had to find things that were already on the ship. In one corner was a bean bag that Jake made himself out of cloth and rice. He said he made it before we knew about our possible food rations issue, but rice had to be boiled anyway so one day we’ll just cut open the bean bag and eat the rice. On one of the walls was a giant Taylor Lautner poster, also stolen from Zara Hemmings. And there was a rug from the storeroom, a desk from one of the classrooms we’ve never used, and a monitor screen for us to watch movies on.

So I guess this is where I’ll be spending the rest of my free time for…the rest of my life.

I’ll write more soon!!

Love from,

Me

Restroom Review – Mary Fisher Basement Bathroom

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Photo credit: Neassa Hunt

This review is going to be about the Mary Fisher dining hall bathrooms. No, not the ones in the dining hall. The ones in the basement. Past the cash register to swipe in on the right. Take a left and you’ll see three bathrooms: men’s, gender neutral, and women’s. For this article, I will be covering the women’s room, which is a multi-stall restroom, rather than the gender neutral, which is a single room.

Mary Fisher and I did not get off on the right foot. Both the bathroom and the dining hall. I’m not one to run lovingly into the arms of change. But we’ve grown into something of an understanding together. The grey tile from the lobby of Mary Fisher continues into its bathrooms. The tile is white, but there’s this wavy-like, 3D tile that provides the backsplash for the sinks and toilets. It’s all very modern.

Six stalls, two sinks, one Toto hand dryer and, to my eternal ire, no paper towel dispenser. One of the stalls is out of commission right now and the big stall on the end’s door is shut in such a way that is always looks like its occupied but it’s not. The counters have plenty of space, but they are the kind that get wet and stay wet very easily (another thing that having some paper towels could improve). So, I wouldn’t recommend placing anything there. There is a trash can in this bathroom, but for what reason I don’t know. Certainly not to throw out paper towels.

Now this is a multi-stall bathroom in a building that has become the one single dining hall on a campus where there used to be three. What I’m saying is that it’s not going to get top marks for privacy. That being said, despite those things, I managed to be very alone in this bathroom. I can’t tell if everyone is just upstairs in the dining hall or if people just don’t know about this one yet. It is kind of hard to find. I would say that as more people learn there is a bathroom in the basement it may become less private, but when that does happen, the single stall will still exist, I suppose.

Now this dining hall does close but the building often has a door left slightly ajar. Just make sure to LEAVE it ajar for the next person. Plus, this bathroom is near construction. I don’t know if there are plans to renovate or at the very least just re-open the Gopher Hole, but if/when they do, the hours are going to change rapidly (as well as people’s ability to get into Mary Fisher without having to go back outside once they’re in that little hallway).

This bad boy is pretty clean, aside from the counters obviously. When I first started doing research for this article — I know right; I have to do RESEARCH for these BATHROOM articles (don’t worry, not hardcore; nothing about me or what I do is hardcore) — but when I first started doing research, there was a smell. Well, there were two smells. One was just me adjusting, it kind of smelled a bit too…new. Like new car smell, but bad. New bathroom smell. It was just plaster mostly. There was a second smell. Something like a burst pipe. It’s since been fixed but it was a major factor in my poor first impressions.

Sound is mostly fine. There’s a full dining hall outside so sound is going to be an issue. The women’s bathroom is far enough down the hall that it’s less of a problem, but I imagine the men’s and gender neutral bathroom are closer and therefore have it a bit rougher.

This bathroom also has the same fated issue as the Van Meter bathroom. I call this the “basement” but it’s three steps down. Yet it’s still impossible to get cell reception. I’m beginning to think this is less a problem to do with basements and more a problem to do with my phone in particular. I will try to test this in the next review where reception is a major talking point (that’s going to be a weird conversation to have with someone). There is a WiFi router above the sinks IN the room. The cell signal issue extends to the men’s restroom as well…well I assume it does, because I also don’t have reception in the section of the hallway that the men’s door is in.

As mentioned before, the counter is not an ideal place for your belongings in this restroom, and unfortunately, these restrooms are all sporting the dreaded Tork brand toilet paper holders, the round ones that you can’t balance things on top of (side note: why did we stop using SCA brand toilet paper holders?). I will give Mary Fisher this: all the stalls have a pretty sturdy hook and the handicapped stall has one of the first hooks I’ve seen that a person with a disability might actually be able to make use of! Meaning that it’s not 9 feet off the ground. Which I also appreciate as a short person without a disability. My advice: make sure you have decent pockets or a purse or something if you’re going to use the Mary Fisher bathroom.

Normally, I would have an extras section. The dining hall is more of a neutral zone and the water fountains outside these bathrooms are AWFUL.

Overall, I give Mary Fisher 6/10*

*with the knowledge that its score could very easily go up once the Gopher Hole is open, or down if too many more people start using it.

Katherine and Pop

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Photo credit: https://a.playmoss.com/

It had been some time after the ritual ended. And yet that thing still was following her. It wasn’t like Katherine minded that much; in fact, it was nice to have the company for once. However, a detached soul with the skull of a deer over its face wasn’t exactly the best conversationalist.

“Hey,” she addressed the creature from her tiny kitchen as she turned on the stove. She looked over her shoulder to look once more at the ritual circle in her living room where it stood.

It turned to look up at her. Its extended limbs drifted through space till it was hovering behind her just next to her potted lavender.

“Do you like coffee or tea?”

The soul said nothing.

“Alright, well I’m having tea. If you don’t like that, you should say something now.”

Silence once more filled the room.

“Tea it is then,” she said.

She snapped her fingers together as ingredients merged and mixed themselves together by her will. A mortar and pestle appeared from underneath the kitchen sink, and a few herbs started to fly into the mortar as the pestle ground in a rather monotonous manner. A small tea bag lifted itself before the bowl as the contents were neatly dispensed inside. Once the tea mix was ready, the bag tied itself together before plunging itself into the boiling pot on the stove.

“I like to make my own spice blend,” she explained to the lost soul. “Store bought is fine in a pinch, but there’s nothing like making the perfect blend of flavors yourself, really invigorates you.” She looked up to see the creature’s boney face pressed against her window, its tongue hanging from underneath its non-existent jawbone.“Okay, nope, no eating my robins or my blue jays. The neighbors would not like that,” she said. She dragged the soul back into the kitchen and distracted it by explaining her process once more so it didn’t wander off. “So,” she continued, “how’d you die?”

She looked up at the creature before the skull began to lift from the emaciated creature revealing a rather terrifying and maniacal grinning face underneath. Its visage was lined with blood, and its eyes were almost popped out of its head. Its smile extended far too high up its face, past its cheekbones and almost over its ears. It grinned as its tongue lolled out of its mouth, swollen and almost detached from the rest of its mouth, barely hanging on by a handful of ligaments. The breathing was weary and laborious, and its breath smelled like fresh maggots out of a rotting corpse. It allowed Katherine to stare into its reddened eyes for a few moments before letting its skull fall back into place, hiding its true form once more.

“Ah, I see. Rather brutal that was, sorry to hear it.”

The creature shrugged in apathy before turning back to the boiling pot and watched the water bubble.

“You gonna stay here for very long?”

It looked from side to side and thought about the prospect for a moment, considering its options. At long last, it nodded.

“Well okay, you can stay, but just don’t cause any trouble you hear? I can and I will perform an exorcism on you, understood?”

The soul nodded.

“You got a name I can call you?”

Katherine turned off the stove and removed the tea from the heat. Two mugs lifted themselves before her as she poured their drinks. One of the cups hovered before the creature before it hesitated and took the cup. It settled in a chair at the kitchen table while the used pot made quick work of cleaning itself.

“Well?” Katherine asked, approaching the kitchen table.

The creature looked around for a few moments then shrugged once more.

“Alright then. I’ll call you Pop, cause you popped out of my floor. That cool with you?”

Pop nodded its head and took a sip of tea as Katherine settled down in the seat across from it with her drink. She watched as the small pattering of rain began against her window and dissolved into the thought that it would be nice to have the company for a while.  

Space Log Day 215

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Photo credit: https://www.videoblocks.com

Halloween was last week and so we celebrated with another party, even though we had less pudding rations for dessert than usual, as we’re trying to conserve food. Zara Hemmings made us all dress up in costumes. Nico Soto and Callum Lang were Mrs. S and Mr. B, and Mrs. S got really mad about it because they snuck into her room and stole pantyhose. I think Mr. B thought it was funny, but Mrs. S kept glaring at him to be mad, too, that he had to pretend.

Every day after that has been pretty boring. Back to our regularly scheduled educations, I guess. We learned how to test the vents for optimum airflow, how to program the communications system to do big math for us, and we spent three days studying the American Revolution. At one point, Mrs. S tried to assign us to research each of our own states, but Jake’s from Oregon, which didn’t even exist yet, so then we just watched Schoolhouse Rock videos about America in general.

I was having trouble with polynomial long division on Thursday, so during our lunch break, I went to Mr. B’s office to ask if he could help — Mrs. S was chatting about the Housewives with Alex, and I didn’t want to bother her. Mr. B was having his lunch, too, of dehydrated vegetables and some weird mix of chemicals that kind of tasted like coffee that he cooked up a few months ago.

“Ah, Gina,” he said when I knocked on his door.

“That was very ominous, Mr. B,” I said.

He laughed a little, but I couldn’t tell if it was because what I said was actually funny, or if it was just so awkward that he had to laugh so that it wasn’t as awkward as it could’ve been. “What do you need?”

I think he was trying to hide something from me. He kept his body angled completely towards me, with his hands behind his back. His office is very small, a secluded room towards the back of the ship near the boiler room, so it’s always quite cozy. He’s decorated it with pictures of home the way the rest of us have decorated our bunks.

“Long division,” I told him.

“Ah,” he said again.

I got the sense that he wanted me to leave, so I offered, “We could go to the kitchen, maybe? Where there’s the big table?”

Mr. B nodded. “Yeah, yeah.”

I know it’s all mysterious and weird and all that Mr. B’s keeping secrets, but he’s so nice that I don’t feel like I need to bust him. It’s a small ship — we all have things that we want to keep private.

I don’t know why I’m telling you this. You don’t know Mr. B or me or any of us. But I guess it’s kind of nice to know that someone is out there, reading this. Maybe you go home to a partner or a family and you sit down for dinner at 6 p.m., and maybe you have Thanksgiving plans, and maybe sometimes you look up at the sky and the moon and you think of us up here. I think that would be nice.

I wish you could write back someday.

Love from,

Me

Epistle for the Man at Mary Fisher

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Photo credit: events.goucher.edu

you say “have a good lunch”
I say “thank you” with my plates full of food-

 

your hand, however

empty,

waving to me as you round the corner to wash a dirty dish or two and restack the supply.

 

you sprinkle “what’s going on with you”

I question “how many more hours you have today?”

 

You stroll

And I pace

 

you mean to say “that food looks good,”

 

I mean to say “i wish you could eat with me”


You wave and your eyes linger but we both know its an embrace

 

you mean “i missed you”

 

I mean to say “where can i meet you after your shift”

 

you hustle and I rest,

 

sipping my ginger ale by the fountain,

my Vision becomes hazy:

bodies running past and through, by me and away from me, with their plates of food, the

workers in their white and blue,

All become a blur of vertical lines,

daydreaming;

in Mary Fisher of the day a shift manager or a table of friends doesn’t need our return.

BY ANONYMOUS

Restroom Review – Van Meter Basement

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Photo Credit: Neassa Hunt

I really wanted to a review of a bathroom this week that was going to skew a bit more negative than usual. Change of pace and all that. After all, this column is for the secrets of the campus restrooms, but also a warning of which bathrooms to stay away from. So today I’ll be covering…the Van Meter basement restroom.

Or rather the first floor? In the elevator it’s “LL,” but I tend to regard it as the basement, with only three classrooms that tend to be used at strange hours. The basement tends to be a bit deserted. That’s not to say this bathroom is unused. There are classes, and some of the ground or second floor staff use it when the ones upstairs are doing roughly or are flooded with students. But the timing of these things means that most times that I’ve gone in alone and stayed alone for quite a while.

It’s a bit spacious with three stalls: one handicapped stall and two smaller stalls. The smaller stalls seem a bit thinner than average, so I tend to frequent the handicapped stall because it seems a bit larger than average. Given that it’s a multi-stall bathroom, privacy is not guaranteed. But an empty multi-stall bathroom is better than a crowded single room bathroom. The middle stall has a broken hook, but all three stalls have the kind of toilet paper dispenser with a flat top that’s perfect for resting your phone or your water bottle.

Van Meter is a school building, so it keeps the regular hours. There are a few ways to get around these hours (I’m writing this inside Van Meter at 11:10 p.m.) but frankly using them is kind of a pain and this is a bathroom article, not a “Nighttime Entrance to Van Meter” article. So, for the sake of argument, your access to this building cuts off around 7 p.m. Which seems plenty reasonable for a restroom.

The Van Meter basement has a lot of positive aspects but there is one VERY large flaw in it. Well, it used to be two very large flaws but one of them got fixed. It’s located in the basement. The room is very deeply set into the building, which means no windows. The main problem is that I get absolutely no cell phone reception in there (you used to not really get Wi-Fi either but it’s better now.) Which, I mean, shouldn’t be the biggest problem in the world. It’s a bathroom; there’s like one, maybe two things max you’re supposed to be doing in there. But sometimes you really need to download the next level of Candy Crush or to Google some inane thing or text your friend about Candy Crush/all your cool new Google findings and you can’t do that in the VM basement.

The other flaw was recently fixed, but it will stay with me for the rest of my days here at Goucher. Last year, one of the main lights near the paper towel dispenser was broken. It would jump and flicker like crazy. Now, I’m not someone who believes in ghosts, nor do I have epilepsy, but it’s very hard to relax when there’s this light straight out of a horror movie going off. It’s fixed now so I shouldn’t complain, but…

It’s a pretty simple décor with semi-charming brown floor tiles, but the walls are a little depressing. It’s also very echo-y, but considering it’s a multi-stall bathroom, an echo should be the least of your potential worries. Unfortunately, for sin of separating me from the internet and scaring the LITERAL shit out of me the one time the lights stopped flickering and shut off completely, I can only give the VM basement a 5/10.

Space Log Day 199

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Picture Credit: https://www.gingdu.com

One more day until Day 200, which is crazy! It feels like we’ve been here for entire years, but it’s only been a few months. Jake and I have been trying to convince Mrs. S to let us throw a party for the special occasion but she is very adamant that tomorrow be just another regular day. Mr. B said he’d help us work on her, but only after we promised him that we’d stay away from the janitor’s closet for a week. (Apparently Jake has been semi-regularly stealing the good vacuum from Mr. B’s closet—I have no clue as to why, but Mr. B just about lit up when Jake said he’d leave it alone.)

In the meantime, while we wait for Mrs. S to acquiesce, I have convinced some of the others to help make decorations. Alex said she’d make a banner, and Tommy said he’d make a PowerPoint with pictures and inside jokes to document the first 200 days we’ve spent together. I asked Nico if he could make a playlist, but he still won’t talk to me after Gwen and I put glue into his hair gel.

On the other hand, amid all of this excitement, we are experiencing a slight crisis: we think we are running out of food. Mrs. S noticed for the first time last week, when we were making chili for the gazillionth time, and she realized that we only have three thousand cans of beans left. Now, you reading this from the safety of Earth, where beans grow in excess on trees (do beans grow on trees?), may be thinking the same thing that I did—three thousand cans of beans is a lot of beans.

But then Zara Hemmings did the math for me. If we use three cans of beans a week, we will run out of beans in twenty years. Again, that might also seem like a long time, until you remember that as far as we know, we will be on this ship for the rest of our lives, heading deeper and deeper into space, where there are obviously no grocery stores to stock up on more beans. (And we usually use closer to six cans of beans a week.) These are only our beans stores, but if we have around the same amount of cans for the rest of our food options, we are about doomed.

Because I’m so good with the communications system and also very good at writing compared to everyone else, Mrs. S made me draft a very nice letter back to The Department asking if there was possibly a mistake with our food stores, or if they could send a small ship out with more food that could somehow fly extra fast and catch up to us. Nico swears there’s another pantry somewhere on the ship where there’s more food that The Department just forgot to tell us about, but I have a feeling that if there was more food on the ship, they would’ve found somewhere in the thousand-plus page ship manual to mention it. So if you get the chance to ask around about that and then get back to us about it, that’d be great.

I think that’s all for today.

Love from,

Me

Covers

by

The walls start barren
on both our sides,
so we pin our laughter
in place of posters.

On both our sides
something like a shadow hides
in place of posters
so we don’t see it drain her color.

Something like a shadow hides,
painting her in black and white
in place of all her color.
I talk to air as if it proves she’s there,
(old pipes clatter and fail to answer).

(The imprints of her were)
painted in black and white,
the walls had been left barren.
I still talk to air as if it proves she’s there
and laugh to fill her space.

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