Free Fiction: “The C-Word” by Don Pizarro

It had been eleven months since I’d last called Anna. One day, she’d stopped answering her phone, and eventually I stopped trying to get through to her. I’d mostly stopped thinking about us until her corner of Massachusetts caught the edge of a hurricane. For three days, I resisted the urge to call.

I never thought she’d call me.

“I knew you’d be worried,” Anna had said.

“I was,” I said, shocked into honesty by the realization she’d actually given me a moment’s thought.

We spent most of the time talking about the storm’s aftermath. “Arkham’s flooded,” she said. “They canceled classes at Misk until further notice. Newburyport’s a mess….”

“How are you?” I asked.

“Innsmouth pretty much got through it unscathed,” she said.

Not the answer I was looking for. This didn’t surprise me. Neither did Innsmouth’s shelter from the storm, despite the town being situated right on the coast. After its revival in the nineties as a place where artists and hipster students with trust funds – like myself – could thrive, nothing could slow Innsmouth down. Not its own sordid history, nor the recession, not even the weather.

The tired old joke was always, “What did Innsmouth sell its soul to this time?”

We did some perfunctory catching up and had gotten to the part where we both mentioned about how little had changed in our lives over the past year, when I blurted out, “I want to see you.” I hung my head down between my knees and waited for another rejection.

“Eliot,” Anna said with a sigh.

I was mentally kicking myself, thinking stupid, stupid, stupid.

“One last visit,” she said. “One. For old time’s sake.”

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