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Burn Until You Freeze

by Karen Crawford

He says he loves you, but he loves her too. Dead air follows. He was never good with words. A stifled hiccup lets you know he's loaded. The shush after the giggle lets you know she's there. 

You say, "Well, goodbye then." But you don't hang up. And neither does he.

You remember the freezer spell on TikTok and head towards the kitchen. Because why not? It's not as if you haven't done this before. You rummage through the cupboards like someone's nosy uncle until you find an empty jar of Smucker's and laugh as you black out the m.

You're on autopilot.

Writing their names on two strips of paper.

Placing them inside.

Filling it with vinegar.

Sealing it tight.

You check the phone. Ragged breathing assures you he's still there. You hang up just as your new roommate breezes in. She goes on and on about her day, her cheeks two ripening cherries, a giggle escaping her red tulip lips. You imagine him kissing them until they turn violet.

You resist the urge to smack her. You wonder how long this will take.

Her lip curls, and she wriggles her nose. Says maybe it's time to take out the trash. When the phone rings, you both jump.

The machine picks up. Hi, you've reached Mia and Mia…

That's when you freeze, breath escaping in baby white puffs.

Your armpits are sticky.

They smell like feet.

The machine beeps.

Your skin starts to pickle.


Karen Crawford lives and writes in the City of Angels. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was included in Wigleaf's Top 50 Longlist 2023. Her work has appeared in Maudlin House, Spry Literary MagazineBending Genres, Emerge Literary Journal, Cheap Pop, 100 Word Story, and elsewhere. You can find her on Twitter @KarenCrawford_ and BlueSky


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