by Anna Sheppard


          Martin answers by saying her name, asking how she is. He’s always done this, since they were young and she’d first started living apart from him. It was college, and she called more frequently then. His children, who are well, talk loud in the background.  He says something about their parents’ old land in Montana finally selling, the land in Montana that was much bigger than the land in Montana Martin has now. This she guesses from her mother’s emails. She still hasn’t visited. She rarely calls Martin, who is well in Montana, or her mother, who is well in California, or her father, who is well in Mississippi. Often when she calls, Martin’s wife answers, and she is well, too, or at least more well than she was last Christmas, or two Christmases ago, something like that, the whole family together again, when she wouldn’t let anyone take her potato casserole from the oven, even when Martin crept close to her, one hand outstretched, his voice calm and saying honey, it’s been in there a while, maybe we could take it out now, and she sat in front of the oven, refused to be moved, refused to be touched. Martin asks if work is going well. Since they’ve last spoken she’s quit the old job, started the new one, which yes, is going quite well. There’s silence between them, a gap, more than physical distance. She wonders if he can hear her husband, who is well, turning on the shower. She tries to remember why she called. You sound bothered, he says, and she says she’s fine here, and she’s glad to know everything’s fine there, and she tells him to take care, and he says he will, and for her to do the same. 


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