The cold floor startled Todd as he climbed out of Sylvie’s bed late in the night. Despite his exhaustion, his body finally giving in to sleep, Todd was still awakened as he was every night, by the same dream, the same thought.

Downstairs, the rooms were still colder. Todd buttoned his shirt as he shuffled methodically to the basement to start a fire, pausing by the kitchen to see a light blinking. 3:58. He had managed nearly four straight hours of sleep, and felt a vague sickness as the strangeness of rest swept over him. Coffee would end the night, and he could leave then within the hour.

Todd opened the back door, bracing himself. Cool, but not even close to the snowy weeks before. Spring-like. The chattering birds seemed to assure him. The pipes would not freeze, not in this sort of morning.

Todd went into his study, searched in a small vase on the bookshelf for the key to the desk drawer. The drawer contained little, really, but the map was there, inside a small book filled with verses he had written. Few people had seen these words, not out of Todd’s lack of confidence, but more out of his desire to keep some part of himself for himself, far from the pressures of those who claimed to know him best. Sylvie knew nothing of the poems, but Todd thought at times that perhaps she would not be surprised. Others would judge him harshly for the softness he expressed, and he had no desire for the crowds to see this part of him.

Sylvie. She came back into Todd’s thoughts once more, her fingertips now more real in their absence. He felt her everywhere, loss defining her more than she could have possibly defined herself in all the days she wandered through his space. He could so easily give into this, linger here in the comfort of missing that love. But now was the time to remember earlier times, other matters left unfinished.

Todd poured his travel cup full of coffee and turned off the machine. He grabbed the heavy backpack hanging on the hooks by the back door, and put the book inside as he stepped out into the new morning, the moon still bright, out down the dark roads. Police cars sat in the pull-outs along the ponds and fields, waiting for a lone speeder, perhaps, or just waiting for day.

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