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"So I had this dream" she said, while knocking the snow off of a stranger's mailbox. "I was in my house, well, I mean – it wasn't my house really." I had zoned out; looking at the sparkling and unravished snow across the frozen lawns we walked by. The storm drains were choked up with muddy snow and rotting leaves. A woman stood in her driveway, wrapped up in her night gown, cherishing the last few drags of a thin cigarette. She crushed it into the icy pavement, stained with mottled swirls of gasoline.

"… and once I went through that door, which really isn't there, as you know, I came into this really old nasty basement, and get this: there were teeth, I think people teeth, spread all across the floor…"

It had rained at some point, and because the storm drains were clogged, a thick sheet of ice covered the sidewalk. Every now and then, she'd slip slightly, and frantically cling to the sleeve of my coat: an action to which I purposely paid no attention. We walked by a robin's-egg colored statue of the Virgin Mary, slowly drowning in snow up to her neck, bowing on someone's yard. I've walked by this statue many times, and seen their car many times. It now idled in the driveway, license plate: JCBSLDDR. Her thin fingers quickly grabbed at my sleeve.

"…and those people in the weird masks made me take off my shoes and walk across the teeth. It was almost like I could feel it, and the teeth were so bright, and the basement was almost black…"

The sky was a flawless, industrial gray. We walked by an icy apple tree with tawny-colored, wrinkled apples frozen onto the spindly, leafless branches. She turned to me, squinting her eyes behind the glasses I'm quite confident she didn't really need.

"You know what I'm talking about, right… a… uh… pipe organ!"

I nodded and smiled, she continued. She was painfully skinny, and we were basically cousins. Family friends, we may even have been related through marriage somehow. People assumed all through school that we dated – the closest we ever came was a brief and awkward stumble into sexual nothingness. It felt like incest, and we didn't talk for weeks.

JCBSLDDR slowly rolled by us. A stoic St. Bernard sat erect in the passenger's seat. It looked forward with a bird-like emptiness. She moved unnecessarily far away from the car, and grabbed onto my coat as she slid across the polished ice.

Her story seemed to be ending. "What was with those teeth, though? They were crushing and breaking between my toes. And those people –"

"Caddie, they say all the faces you see in dreams belong to people you've seen in real life." I quickly stated this in order to end her story.

She stopped talking in order to digest this thought. Caddie. I know her father regretted her name like some people regret tattoos, and what is your name other than metonymy for your being?

She does this, describing her dreams like they're some deep metaphysical journey. Almost every day, walking the well-beaten path to her father's house that started on paved streets, went through water-tower woods, an old cemetery, and ended at the paint-chipped porch of her home. Her father's home, that is. Who was, for lack of a more apt title, my uncle. He lived a monastically ascetic life, collecting veteran's stipends, consuming mass amounts of Dostoyevsky and re-writing litanies and scripture. Paul (not his birth name) was among the most interesting and sinful religious fanatics in a county full of religious fanatics. He loved his daughter, wife, country, friends, and brand of cigarettes.

The reason for the amount of fanatics is unknown. Perhaps it's something in the water, which was voted the best tasting public water in a week-long segment on a local news program. Or maybe Puritanical tendencies are genetic. Either way, this deep-seated fear of God is what caused our trepidation in the last leg of our trek. After briefly trespassing on the land surrounding the local water tower, we cut through approximately one-hundred feet of snowy woods and came out onto the dirt road of the town's sole cemetery. A furious mid-day snow flurry blankly traced the wind. Caddie put up her hood, and tied the strings of her hat together.

The unpaved road that snaked through the cemetery was frozen dirt, hard as tar. The headstones stretched to the horizon, and were intermittently cleared of snow and tastefully decorated by family members. The whole area had a museum-like quality of silence, observation, and memory. We paused at the gaping mouth of this macabre gallery.

Caddie broke the silence. "I hate those laser-etched ones. With the people's faces that are buried there. I don't want to visualize the person rotting …" she said this last word quietly, as not to upset the dead "… under my feet."

"Out of sight, out of mind" I quietly added. I started walking down the dirt road, toward her house. My cell phone started to vibrate in my pocket. I looked at the cracked front screen, and Neil was calling me. I flipped it open.

"What's up? You weren't in school today." Neil was never in school.

"Wasn't feeling it. Is it snowing?" He was coughing.

"Sounds like a bad cough. You actually sick?" I knew why he was coughing.

"It's the chronic, son."

Frost Belt, red-blooded American teens smoke marijuana and listen to Dr. Dre, there isn't much else to do in all of this muddy snow.

"Listen," he posited, "you're coming over to my house after you walk your girlfriend home."

"She's not my…"

"Hold on, I'll be right back."

I stopped walking, while Caddie continued through the snow. She walked to the point where the dirt road turned toward the main way that spilt into an iced-over duck pond, cluster of mausoleums, and ultimately the cemetery gates. She turned back, and the tiny snow flakes swirled around her. I stood with my phone to my ear, watching her take out hers to blankly stare at the screen. The snow slapped my face, propelled like sand, by a raw, unforgiving wind. Suddenly, on the other line, I heard a woman's voice, a door close, and a hand rubbing against the transmitter.

"Sorry dude, my mom smelt something. So is it snowing?"

"I'll be over after I get her home, and she's not my girlfriend."

"Sounds good. Make sure you hold her hand, it's snowing, right?"

"Fuck you." I hung up.

I caught up with Caddie as she was looking at a headstone like it was hung in the Louvre. I paused to see what she was looking at. A snow-buried teddy bear slumped on the base of the marble headstone, the color of boiled lobster. A laser-etched face of a young boy squinted at some holy light shining down from the heavens, as an extended hand took his. A small white cross leaned against this desperately sad display. He lived within a decade, and looking at his squinting face, I couldn't help but think of what Caddie said earlier about rotting. She started walking away, and dragged me with her.

"Was that Neil on the phone?"

I nodded.

"Why wasn't he in school today?" She asked, seemingly strangely worried.

"He had a cough." I laughed weakly as I said this.

"Tell him I hope he feels better. Will he be in tomorrow?"

"It's Friday."

"Oh! I totally forgot. I love forgetting its Friday and then being told by someone."

I didn't look at her face, but I could tell she was smiling when she said this. There's a way words get pushed out of your mouth, like one of those Play-Doh play sets, that delivers it with the inflection of happiness. We turned up the main path, and as we rounded the corner, she feebly grabbed at my jacket as she slid across the ice.

We reached the cemetery gates, and the road stretched out either way in front of us. A plastic manger scene stood crookedly in the lawn across the street. Her house was not far to the right, and Neil's was not far to the left.

"Tell your dad I said hi." I said, starting to walk to the left. A semi-truck was coming, speeding down the road, and she turned back and said something. Whatever it was, it was drowned out by the passing truck. I smiled and laughed, and she looked back, puzzled. I guessed the wrong reaction, and in the silence that replaced the mechanical thunder, I turned and walked in the other direction.