Up down

The two sat on the wooden stairwell and watched the orange glow of the portable furnace, stretching their legs. In the stillness, she could feel her dad’s breaths rise and fall against her shoulders—up, down, up down, the rhythms of solitude. Her heart ached and swelled into her throat, but she did not know why. Do people age silently? She felt that her thoughts were like a black hole, spiraling into invisible possibilities and unknowns, and it was only the up-down-up-down of her father’s chest that kept her connected to the world outside her own.

They spoke without speaking, exchanging feelings and disentangling misunderstandings—two hearts that beat: up, down, up down.

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