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October 1, 2020

Ice Cream Cake

Joshua Hebburn

"One cup or will it be a two cups day,' Ann said back into the living room of their apartment.

"Two," Jo said.

Jo was on the couch with her phone. Ann watched as Jo gathered all her blonde hair up into a ball in her hand and then let it go.

Ann made coffee.

She used the pyrex measuring cup, which was accessible in the wire dish rack over the second chamber of the sink, to bring the water to the Mr. Coffee from the tap. Tap water contains minerals, which improves the taste, Ann had read that somewhere in the internet.

She took a few steps away from the counter and turned halfway to the living room. Ann was still holding the measuring cup.

Ann was pleasantly blanked by sleep. She had left her phone on the bedside table, attached to the charger, un-referenced.

She stood in the kitchen, and she liked standing in the kitchen.

Jo was sitting up, not just sitting.

Jo was holding the phone up to her face. On it was a familiar social media, a specific page that twitched unusually with lively comment in these early hours when the night's accumulated notifications unrolled before other sleep sticky eyes.

And Jo held the phone weird. It was not at the common angle, ramping away from Jo's face. It was straight — parallel to — like the line of reference an anatomist might pierce her skull and body with when drawing an educational diagram in which Jo's body was sectioned.

Ann was close enough to sleep to have dreamy thoughts.

Ann looked at the window, where the sky was fresh blue. She smelled the good smell of their coffee, which they made so strong some people who visited wouldn't drink it.

She looked over at Jo again.

"Good morning," Ann said.

"What should I say?" Ann said.

Ann tried to think.

"Should I put the new Angel Olson on again?" Ann said.

Jo straightened her wrist. The phone then was held in the way it is usually held when it is put to an ear for a call, but it was still in front of her face.

Jo said, mostly to the phone, "Why would you say happy birthday to a person who's dead today what's wrong with you."

Jo continued.

"Ask if you should get an icecream cake," Jo said.

"A certain number of candles," she continued.

Ann noticed she was still holding the measuring cup.

She put it on the counter.

“Ok, ice cream cake,” Ann said.