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Tessa Fontaine, who’ll be reading at SBC next week, published this essay in The Believer Magazine. Here’s how the essay begins:

IMG_8887-e1532020211460-600x800The phone is an old rotary with small holes for your fingers. To make a call, guide your number past zero and once you release, it will carry itself back to where it began. I’d forgotten how easy it was to mess these up. Jerk your finger out too soon, and you’ll never get connected.

The phone sits on a metal shelf inside a glass phone booth in the middle of a lush garden. The shape of your hand holding the receiver is like the shape of your hand holding a bundle of flowers for someone you loved. When I ask Mr. Sasaki why he chose a rotary phone for his phone booth, he says that the extra time it takes to dial is good. Gives you a chance to figure out what to say to the dead.

Most locals come after dark, or very early in the morning. They keep their grief private. If Mr. Sasaki sees someone out in his yard, on the phone, he pretends not to notice.

Death doesn’t end life, Mr. Sasaki tells me. One person dies, and all the others around them go on living.

Life continues.

Life continues, and so Mr. Sasaki has built something to help other people, and himself, continue. It is called The Phone of the Wind.

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