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I start to say something. But something catches my eye behind Allie. A blur moving behind the SUV. A ghost walking among the living. A little girl peeking around the hood of the car. “Hannah…” I whisper, all my anger and focus shattered. She runs past Allie and dashes towards me. I drop my handgun and run towards her. Time slows and hastens all at once. I can feel myself running forever trying to make it to her. I drop to my knees as she reaches me, falling into my arms and into that protective embrace only fathers can give.

He takes another drink of his beer. I decide to let him have his moment before I take him. I’ll respect his wish. From one widower to another. ” I ask. “Not long,” he says, looking at his wristwatch. ” He looks back out toward the intersection. I turn around as well. There’s a lone cab driving up the road toward us. It pulls over by the sidewalk across the street and parks at the curb. A woman in a beige trench coat emerges with a rolling suitcase behind her. She has wavy blond hair and big, round sunglasses covering her thin, pale face.

I shake my head, my eyes falling to the floor. ” Her eyes dip as well. She bites down and frowns. “That’s fucked up,” her voice almost cracks. I nod my head, unable to speak up. “Well,” she says, clearing her throat and raising her glass. ” I raise mine as well. ” We each finish our drinks. I set my glass down on my nightstand. And in the silence, and I mutter a whisper under my breath. ” Allie gets up from the bed. “I should get going. I’ll leave you to your gift,” she says, glancing over at the bottle.

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Alternate by Ernie Luis


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