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In winter everything’s a little harder: the car grinds through two twists on the key, and the old dog takes an extra sigh. The pads of her fingers feel like leather. Knees and doorjambs stick.

Beneficence burns wood from trees which, she knows, have seen worse winters. And stayed green too. Pine, spruce and Douglas-fir. Their smoke baffles up the chimney stack, kissing heat to brick.

Beneficence goes outside to watch the smoke, some nights. Even against the blueberry sky it’s faint. She goes back in, unsure if she saw anything; but each time the door sticks a little less.