800 Fill

By Kelli Short Borges

I can buy you a blanket.

I’m across the country, so I can’t hand it to you wrapped in golden paper that shines with the promise of warmth, but I can still buy it, and I tell you I’ll get the one with goose down, at least 800 fill, soft as baby chicks, the one that’s winter weight.

I tell you to wrap yourself tight to keep away the chill, the frigid air that seeps through small cracks in your apartment, bricks the color of dried blood. The cracks, I noticed last I visited, aren’t filled with mortar, not as they should be at least. Someone’s done a half-ass job, and this makes me angry because now you feel a cold so deep it aches to the bone.

I can buy you a blanket.

This I can do, even with deserts and rivers and mountains between us, a series of crossings. I know those crossings myself—have traveled them—know an avalanche can whisk you away, bury you under its winter weight, and how I wish—

How I wish I could hold you in my arms again, your tiny fingers grasping mine, milky blue eyes searching my own as your body draws life from mine in a rocking chair at dawn.

I made you a promise then: I would help you climb the mountain, would never let the avalanche claim you. I whispered this softly into your downy head, my lips brushing your ear, and even though you don’t remember, I do, and I’ll never, ever forget.

I can buy you a blanket.

This morning you called and said the dog ate your old one, chewed it to pieces. This sounds like a joke, so cliched it can’t be real, and I want to laugh but the break in your voice stops me, and I swallow my laughter down.

You never complain, don’t ask for a thing, have a cheerful bravado, are Gorilla Glue strong. You have been since the age of three when you shoved a mean boy against the cracked plastic at the McDonald’s Playland and said no one messes with me. Even so, I’m your mother, and I know.

I know strong doesn’t mean you don’t feel cold in the city some nights, when strange men follow you and your girlfriend through midnight streets asking you to kiss for them, let them see a show, leering with glinting eyes sharp as whetted blades. Strong doesn’t fill the cracks in the wall, doesn’t smooth jagged edges that tear at soft skin. Strong doesn’t stop the chill that seeps from the outside and leeches in, its icy fingers gripping so tight you fear you’ll never again feel warm.

So, I’ll buy you a blanket—a hug in the night.

The one with 800 Fill.

Kelli Short Borges is a former reading specialist and a life-long reading enthusiast. She also enjoys hiking the Arizona foothills, photography, and traveling the world in search of adventure. Her work has been published or is forthcoming at The Tahoma Literary Review, The Sunlight Press, The Dribble Drabble Review, and Across the Margin, amongst other publications. You can connect with her on Twitter @KelliBorges2.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Digital Pastel and Pen)

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