The chill wind is determined to take the roof off of my house. Forceful winds here sound like ghosts haunting empty rooms. For 15 years I have lived here and listened to the howling, gusting, unforgiving air, sucking the moisture out of every living thing it passes. On rare occasions when the winds are calm, it is the coyotes coming down from the hills, to search for sustenance, that fill in the void left by the wind with their eerie, keening calls.

Rumors are flying at work that our alternative high school is closing. I have been there for 5 years, working as the school secretary, the registrar, the attendance clerk, the payroll and finance clerks, the health assistant, and, until this school year - the cafeteria person. It prevents an old woman from suffering from idle hands, I suppose. I am the only non-certificated employee out of 4 total. Our student population hovers at 28. The District cannot support this school much longer, with so few students and an aging building that is requiring more and more repair.

My engagement is off, or maybe on hold. Long-distance love has proved to be difficult. I was supposed to be there, packed up and moved to Idaho already. But I am unable to leave my daughter and grandson. I feel like such a pathetic loser. I have never been clingy or dependent. I still don't think I am, but my feet have mysteriously become encased in cement. I am here, not there. So early Monday morning, I will take advantage of Spring break, and will drive the 17 hours to see Michael, to talk, to see if we have a relationship to resurrect.

I am sitting on the floor in the living room, contemplating lighting the pellet stove. I can't get warm. My heart feels like a cold, black stone. Head in my hands, I am not feeling sorry for myself, but am despairing. Perhaps I split hairs? The wind shakes my windows, howling, sneaking in through the window frame, through my brain, the howl escaping through my lips.


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