Beyond the Cold Coming

You’re stalling now,” Sister Howard says, “because you don’t want to go.” I nod, half-smile, and wonder if I’m tat transparent. I want to go, but I don’t. You’ll end up there anyway, the thought persists, it’s time. I shove it away, but I also stare at Sister Howard for permission. She holds my eyes in a knowing moment.

“I know, I need to go, but . . .”

Her gaze is level despite the lift on the end of my phrase. “When you’re serious,” she’d told me the semester before, “I’ll give you a reference, tell you who’s good.” And that’s all she’d said, but she’d waited, like she’s waiting now, leaning forward in her office chair.

A breath drops heavy in my lungs. “I’ll go,” I tell her finally, softly. And I mean it. The decision moves across me like a shadow. Sister Howard—proud of me, I think—gives me the names.

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