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Reading Together

Clive lives by the sea in rural Cornwall, England, and writes short stories and poetry. He has been published by Zetetic, Pidgeonholes, and The Quarterday Review. Occasionally he blogs about finding writing tough at clivetern.com.
While we ate, the news warned of power outages. Hopefully we'll make it through the night. The world may be warmer than thirty years ago, but it still drops to forty degrees overnight, cool enough to need the heat on.
After tea we sit on the couch.
"Can I kiss you?" You ask.
"Not just now. You can read to me."
"What do you want me to read?"
"You choose."
You read an old collection of short stories. Each one is small and perfectly formed. By themselves they would be no more than an amuse bouche, but together form an intimate banquet we share as wind howls in the eaves and sirens speed along the lawless streets hidden behind our curtains.
The lights flicker and my heart sinks. Rolling brownouts are all too common. The infrastructure is old, unable to cope with the demands placed upon it.
You keep reading until the electric cuts out. When you stop what little warmth there is in the room dissipates, as if your voice is a protection against the cold wind.
In the dark I think of the years we sat together, lay together. All those times now gone forever. I'm left with a handful of memories, random fragments of time saved in a way guaranteed to remind me how much I miss you.
When the lights blink back on I wipe the tears from my cheeks and press the restart button. Your hologram shimmers on the seat next to me.
"Can I kiss you?" You ask.
"Not just now. You can read to me."
"What do you want me to read?"
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

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