after

What’s left is what came after.  The punctuation feels heavy and permanent.

After Blake was lost the mine went on for a few years, until the war took away the work and the men. Adam held on as long as he could: running up the figures, weighing the gold, dolling out the pensions and checks. Anna taught the children as long as they came. The mine owners kept her and Adam safe from the elements and everywhere else until the end, and when the mine closed they were sent into the wind like fireweed seeds in the fall.

Adam and Anna fell into a quiet sort of love. They sat next to one another and drank coffee. They spoke of the world surrounding them and of the mine and of their childhoods. They were an aging couple before their first kiss.

Justine left the valley after the funeral. There was a memorial service without a body, held on top on the caves, where the mountain bends and dips and creates miniature valleys full of purple arctic lupin in the spring. She wore her yellow dress, but by now it was stretched taut against the life in her. She went to Seattle to have the baby.

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"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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