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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Alice Drew

He was barefoot.

The even rows of clear glasses behind the boy were dazzling in the spring sun. He grinned.

She handed him the coins gingerly, as if they had a life of their own.

In the middle of the deserted country road they paused, looking back at their tracks across the field of blinding snow. Black winter trees rose in the distance, twisted, but straining for sky.

Without explanation, tears stood in his eyes.

He stood on a ladder, printing the walls of the room with a stolen post-office stamp: No Such Address.

Her legs pressed against the unreliable aluminum rungs. Four feet above, he caught the back of her head in his hand and kissed her low on her face, where the curve of her jaw met her ear.

She sat up in bed and pulled her legs out from under the exasperated covers. She opened the window and pressed her face against the cool metal frame. Below, the streetlight sizzled.

After a while she closed the window and tried singing.

On the roof outside her window, he tapped gently on the glass. Still angry, she sat up, her white nightgown glowing like a ghost in the moonlight.

His voice was muffled by the pane between them. "Hey," it came faintly. "Let me in."

The payphone was brand-new. She took off her gloves to dial. At the gas pumps across the lot, a man in a rich camel-hair coat watched her as he waited for his tank to fill.

There was no answer. She held the scrap of paper against the frozen phone with her bare hand, and tried again.

The door chime rang. A bearded man ducked through the door, his daughter on his shoulders, holding onto his ears. It rang again for two boys who snickered nervously at the cover girls in their wire racks as they paid for gum and beef jerky. It rang for a young couple, buying cigarettes, and for an old woman who picked up a horoscope on impulse, along with her whole milk and canned dog food.

Each time she looked up, but it was never him.

Alice Drew has a web site, and that web site can be found... www.alicewonderland.TV.