No Take Backs

Rivi is crumpling junk mail newspaper fliers into balls and packing them around the drinking glasses in the box on the counter. “I still find it impossible to believe you guys are moving,” she says.

“We’ve been talking about it for years,” I tell her. “You should have been listening, obviously.”

“I find it more impossible to believe that you aren’t asking me to come with you.”

“The only reason I’m not asking is because I know you’re going to come along anyway.”

“Obviously,” she says. “It would be rude of me not to.”

I am working on my own box of dishes, our extra plates and bowls and such. Hunter and I aren’t making the actual move until later in the month, but we’re trying to get as much packed now as we can, so it’s not a mad dash to the finish line at the very end. It’s not possible for a move to be stress-free, but we’re doing what we can to make it at least stress-light.

“We’re like conjoined twins,” Rivi says, stuffing more newspaper into her box.

“Without the conjoined part.”

“Or the twins thing.”

“Other than that, though,” I say.

We’re moving back east, Hunter and I. Leaving the big city life for a small town in the Maine woods, far away from humans, far away from noise, far away from urban stress. We’ve found a very mature farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, a beautiful bit of hundred-and-fifty-year-old construction on a lovely plot of land that’s mostly trees, trees, and more trees, and we’re planning on putting our own roots down there with the ones that those trees have done as well.

“I’ll bet the house is haunted,” Rivi says.

“Has to be,” I say. “As old as it is, guaranteed that somebody has died in it at some point.”

She folds the flaps of the cardboard box closed, then uses the packing tape to seal it closed. “Lots of somebodies,” she says. She grabs the black Sharpie off the counter and scribbles on the box lid, then repeating the label on two sides of the box: kitchen crapola. “Dozens of somebodies. Corpses stacked to the ceiling in every room.”

I take the tape from her and use it to seal up my box. “Probably wasn’t a massacre or suicide cult in the house, Rivi.”

“Cholera outbreak, maybe. Or maybe a Donner Party thing. Everyone snowed in during a really bad winter, had to eat each other to survive. That’ll teach people to live where it snows during the winter.”

“This is why I didn’t invite you to come,” I say. “You’ve just been looking for an excuse to gnaw the flesh from someone’s bones.”

“I’m coming anyway, so just you don’t worry about it, mister.” She grabs a fresh empty box from the pile and starts putting bottles and jars of condiments into it. “Let me just get all this barbecue sauce in here though. Wouldn’t want to get all the way there and not have enough, if you know what I mean.”

“I never should have given you the new address.”

“Too late for take backs,” she says. “Much, much too late.”

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