by Emma Zetterström
–We’re like magnets, I say.
–More like velcro, the distance scratches your voice.
–Velcro lies flaccid until you stick it together. We snap, I say.
–Not anymore. I stamp the snow on the platform.
–We should repel, by the laws of nature, and my mum, because we’re the same. You ignore that. In ancient times minerals had a gender, I don’t want you to say what you want to say, but I want you on the line. My credit will run out in minutes.
–Why can’t a stone just be a stone? you spit.
–Manganese used to be, in, like, ancient times, two black stones. The male one attracted iron and the female one didn’t, I am stalling for you. The train arrives. I learned that at school today.
–And only males have magnetism? you’re raising your voice. The train pulls away. Outside, winter has surprised autumn, stumbling in before the leaves have gone.
–Magnets don’t work at a distance. Here it comes now. Tear apart the velcro. It’s time to end this.
–What about the moon? I plead. It pulls the sea from afar.
–I need more than a lunar body to tug me, your voice merges with the train’s rattle.
–But I’ll be back once I leave school. Once Mum can’t decide. The words catch in the tiny holes covering the microphone. High rises become houses with junk-shaped snow in gardens. They become fewer. Until there are only white stretches interspersed by black trees. I hold my phone and watch the warning message light up. The money’s almost up. Rooks rise up in fright from the train’s trundle. Their outlines vivid against the snow.
All I hear before the phone cuts is Good.