send her home

ali sat in the empty chair next to me and invited me on the last minute flight. i’d never been in a helicopter cause for whatever reason it didn’t strike me as interesting as airplanes, but a bird is a bird and i took a raincheck, my feathers already wet from intuition’s forecast. i knew i’d never see him again. in less than 24 hours he wouldn’t have a job, and the mission to care for his wife and kids would be under the microscope of faith. didn’t give him an excuse – just said “no, but thank you for thinking of me…” very briefly he looked disappointed and i had to look away, feigning interest in the people playing volleyball only several yards away. there were an inordinate amount of african americans surrounding the venue, and i couldn’t help but stare because i’d never seen so many together in that way. a second later neil nudged me to ask if i’d had any pictures of my kids on my phone i could share, while a few others were passing phones around to share pictures of their pets. while pulling out my phone and ordering another drink i began coming up with believable reasons i had flowers in my roll but not children, but then came across a graduation photo of my oldest son. well well well – i wasn’t such a bad parent after all. smiling like an idiot for being able to participate in show and tell, i held it up for neil to see and didn’t expect the next line of questions but probably should have seen it coming. he’d become unbelievably interested in our skin colors and what our makeup was. it didn’t bother me because i was used to it; in fact i thought it was cute because it reminded of how kids ask each other the funniest things out of curiosity with no sense or thought of ill will. neil had no photos to show anyone; he’d just gotten married and bragged that he narrowly escaped baby years because he was a step-dad to a 4 and 12 year old. about twenty gathered for dinner but i’d grown uncomfortable having had too much to drink followed by feeling wildly amorous by thoughts alone so i told them all i needed to get home to feed the kiddos, which was a lie because i knew they’d already eaten. middle aged aloneness smells like the trunk of a wistfully-scented race car being held up by cinder blocks, and without wheels or luggage it permeated my skin like a bouquet of rotting sunflowers i didn’t want anyone to attempt watering.

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