Michael asked his mother and father if they needed anything else before he left. Of course they didn’t. Their Family was good at helping clean up after any festivities or gatherings. They both told him to go home and get some rest. He clapped his father on the back and kissed his mother’s cheek and, with his cup of coffee, set off down the street. One-handed, he managed to take out and light a cigarette. At his corner, he flicked the filter into the gutter and watched as it rolled through the grate and down into the sewer. Upstairs in his apartment, he tiptoed through his usual bedtime routine before emerging from the bathroom with a razorblade pinched between two of his fingers. Brown hair piled on the pillows above her head gave away the location of Penelope’s repose beneath the blankets on the bed, her lithe body barely making a dent. Michael wriggled out of his clothes, down to his boxers, and slid beneath the blankets. “Pen,” he whispered, a light hand between her bare shoulderblades.
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