It's getting colder.

Isaac sits on the corner with a cup of change

On the interior of that wall is a safe filled with cash

While Aubrey sits shivering in an alcove

A few stories below a sales floor of fabrics that will soon be out of style and relocated

Chris sits in a living room, swiping through an app of strangers' faces

While Patrick scans the bar, losing hope that he will speak to anyone while he sips that beer

The Jackson family places a bucket beneath a drippy ceiling

While on an adjacent campus Lucas watches his frat brothers punch a hole in the wall and roar

Stella eats canned tuna and canned peaches 

While a strip of restaurants dumps the scraps from the day into the dumpsters in synchronization  

James sits at his cubicle on the 26th floor of an insurance corporation, half listening to a call, taking in the view of the high rise

While Mary sits in the emergency room, praying with her hands squeezed tight for the surgery to take the pain away

Mildred takes her very first breath and screams 

At the same frequency of a mother seeing her son get shot on the news

Jean twists until she hears the satisfying crack of an opened Fiji water bottle 

While Adam carries a wash bin to the muddy creek bed—arms shaking with exhaustion

Daniel talks over his wife and her sister and his niece to make his point

While Patricia limps home from the dorm across campus, wondering if anyone will believe what happened to her

Carl steps out from the orchestra to sing the finale

While Dorothy watches her son, Michael, refuse to speak to the therapist

Charlotte sleeps through her Friday class

While Irving receives a lacking education because of the simple geography of his birth

Clayton scans the ingredient list, thinking “No way! My body is a temple.”

While Isabelle silently carries the 2 and adds the 8 while she puts that box in her grocery cart

Addison screams "I hate you" in her mother’s face during a petty fight

While Brooke watches her mom be lowered into the ground, crying about all of the moments they will no longer share

Liam meticulously plans out his commute for wheelchair accessibility

While Diego jumps out of a plane for fun, to taste his mortality 

Oliver takes a chunk of savings to Florida for a long, happy retirement

And Hayden continues to work.

And work.

And work.

“Hey, Gail! What’s the dumbest thing you did this week?”

Well, funny you should ask. I sold a pair of headphones on Craigslist. When I realized I was meeting a strange man alone, I attempted to put a kitchen knife in my pocket. You know, as you do. It was very uncomfortable, so I ditched it and pretended that my keys counted as a weapon. Then, I went downstairs to meet the man. He rolled up in a blue Audi convertible. He put the wad of cash where it was visible and began attempting to pair his iPhone to the headphones for a test. He asked why I was selling them. I explained that they were a very nice gift that I wasn’t using. He said, “A gift, huh? He must be a generous guy.” I word vomited, “Or woman.” The patriarchy stared back at me in confusion.

Time slowed.

I watched his eyes glance towards the money thinking, “But wait! A feminist. Do I need these funky fresh headphones?”

I silently screamed “HELP ME I’M POOR” a la Kristen Wiig.

It’s ok, guys. I got my moola. And I wasn’t kidnapped. Thank God. That would be embarrassing. A grown ass woman falling subject to child nabbing? No thank you.

As mothers and daughters, we are connected with one another. My mother is the bones of my spine, keeping me straight and true. She is my blood, making sure it runs rich and strong. She is the beating of my heart. I cannot imagine a life without her.
— Kristin Hannah