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July 2018, vol 14 no 2

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Kreg Viessleman

A Beer From Anywhere Else

The night snow was swirling, sparkling, pulsing in and out of the dark navy sky. When I say ”sky” in reference to southern Minnesota in the winter, I don’t mean the normal sky – the sky you look up to; that is limited to the heights above the few scattered trees and silos and grain elevators. In the winter here, the sky sinks all the way down to the earth. It brushes against your face. It has mass. This sort of sky begins precisely where the snow stops. And when the wind blows, even those boundaries, those distinctions, become indiscernible; meaningless, just like they do in rainstorms on the North Atlantic, or the sandstorms of Namib.

From out of this sort of sky issued forth the whiteness that was blanketing the empty streets, drifting in the doorways of the closed-up shops and slowly erasing the trail of footprints that led up to the front entrance of the American Legion.

There we sat – a thirty-five-year-old woman and I – facing one another. We had been that way for an hour or so, drinking in the pale yellow light from a ”Hamm’s Beer” sign hung near our table. It'd been 17 years since I left the town where I grew up, and she was one of the few people from it with whom I still maintained contact. She was also the first non-familial female I had ever kissed. It happened behind a garage when we were maybe ten or so.

From there, she went on to become popular.

I did not.

"God, Kreg. Don't you wish we could go back – be in high school again?" she thought aloud.


But I would have kissed her again for the sole reason that she deserved it.

We swigged simultaneously from our bottles. I was drinking Schell's because it came from a brewery in a town nearby. She was drinking Bud Light because it did not.

twenty below
kids of kids I knew
licking steel

Note: Previously published in Splittet Kjerne #66, 2017