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“Keep the fire hot for me,” says Grace before she leaves. “Keep it lit. I’ll be back.”

There’s enough wood on the pile for five days; Teviot makes it last nine. On the tenth day he burns his chair, then the table. On the fifteenth he burns their only book.

On the eighteenth he burns his blankets, then his sweater and socks. On the twenty-first he burns hair and fingernail clippings. On the twenty-second he burns the last matches. He burns their dust, and their memory.

He burns air. He burns hunger.

On the thirtieth day he burns hope, blue-hot, white-quick.