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Letter from Terminal B, Gate 11

Remember our friend who wore flannel and watched The Cosby Show, episode after episode with an arm around his new girl—another incarnation of the last girl, whose name always started with a J. We wondered if this was his kind of litmus test: the two of them in flannel — just shirts, no pants—sitting in the glow of an eternal laugh track.

When Jessica said her best friend died, I pictured some bright young thing with a raucous laugh resounding the years of life she didn’t live—someone walking toward a strobe light and then death plowed through. But she said: He was eighty-two. He played trumpet once with Louis Armstrong. Had been dying for years. She doesn’t know how to pass the time now, him gone and no one left to take care of.

Waking can take us hours, some days. A good morning is a tangle of limbs, a length of spine traveled by your fingers, a warm place between the pillow and your cheek. In bed we are safe from the fruit flies congregating over the kitchen sink and the husks of moths swept into the corner. Don’t let go. I touch your face by way of praying. Don’t leave me in a room you’ll never walk into.

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