AFTER WE CLEARED the snow from my driveway, I realized I would one day attend my neighbor’s funeral out of obligation, for the man, observing me from his living room window as I floundered alone, shoveled with me for no reason, desiring neither cash nor praise, and this kind of friendliness creates debt. But why do I assume I’ll live longer? If my heart stopped tomorrow, would he arrive at the mortuary saying, as he did in my driveway, that he simply felt bad? I considered asking this question aloud, but instead I stood quiet as he crossed back to his own piles of white, the snow turning to sharp pellets of ice now, licking the end of my shovel and stabbing my cheeks. The frigid air encouraged my silence. We waved, and as I dropped my shovel off in the garage, I remembered how, that morning, the news ran a story on the increased risk of heart attacks during heavy snowfalls: folks misjudged their limits. Perhaps this was why my mind had wandered toward death.
Benjamin Woodard lives in Connecticut. His recent fiction has appeared in Cheap Pop, decomP magazinE, and Cleaver Magazine. He is an editor at Numéro Cinq Magazine and helps run Atlas and Alice Literary Magazine. You can find him at benjaminjwoodard.com and on Twitter at @woodardwriter.