Fellows

We heard the pop and then the loose flap of rubber smacking the asphalt. She turned on a neighborhood road, and we surveyed the damage.

“A nail.”

“I have AAA; I’ll call.”

I nodded and leaned back on the grassy slope. The air was thick, and the back of my thighs were moist from sweat.

“They said a couple of hours.”

She eased down next to me. It was a nice evening, and the houses towered around us. I really had nothing else to do. We chatted; she was a ride to and from class, and we didn’t know each other that well. She talked about her summer wedding, and it made me think about all the changes in my life.

This was the finale, this class with the four of us. Stragglers who had dropped the other late night course. I guess I already felt detached. Our cohort had dwindled. What had once been my life-preserver against the soul-sucking waves of first years and urban schools was now just a small floatie. Something you didn’t really need, but it was nice to have around for the comfort.

The sun set and turned the sky orange. A white truck pulled up, its yellow lights a haze in the dusk. He hooked up her car, and she asked him where he was from. The windows were down, but the night was a quilt, and I kept sweating. The houses stopped towering, turned into tiny dwellings stacked one on top of the other, and then into rows with boards for windows. Blue and red lights whizzed passed us, and he asked if we were sure about the shop. We shrugged and said yes; these neighborhoods were familiar to us, the territory our quixotic training had thrust us into.

At the end of the night it was just the two of us and her new tire. She crossed the bridge to drop me off at my place, and my feet crunched against the gravel of the sidewalk.

She leaned toward the open passenger’s side window. “Thanks for staying with me.”

“Of course.”

I watched her drive into the black suede night.

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Carry On

A crescent of liquid maroon pools under the curve of her nail. A crack penetrates the electric blue sheen, cutting directly across the middle. The flesh throbs, blanketed under a sticky tan band aid. Her face is pink like a summer’s kiss, and her black pants hug the creases behind her knees. Her stomach is an ocean that rolls with the sudden lift and dip of the plane. That forgetting feeling crashes like a tsunami, and she casts furtive gazes across the aisle. Buckled in and trapped by yellow-red lights, she can only wait to double check. But the growing pit in her gut tells her she really doesn’t have to.

The white numbers count down her remaining time, and her thoughts chase each other. The repercussions of the forgotten item mount, and she wants to scream until her throat is raw and salt pours down her cheeks. Barely keeping it together, and of course she fucking forgets this. Of all things. She hates her flying self.

She swipes her finger across the small black screen just to hear the tap of her nail against plastic. She’s yelling in her mind, willing those stupid white numbers to wind down on fast forward. She doesn’t know what she will say when she lands.

This is a leaving that has a return that feels all out of place. This was unscheduled, but oh so needed, and God she could throttle herself for being so absent-minded. That’s the curse of yet another flight; what else is there to do but think and reflect? And reflect and reflect and reflect until it’s a softer salt sliding down her cheeks.

Afternoons

They made lemon faces

when they found out where.

But I lounge under blue lake skies

where it rains bright neon rays in abundance.

I escape to stranger-full beaches

and dream up adventures with opposite coast friends

that always end on splotchy green grass

with fluffy towels and the lap of waves against sand.

Angels

The build-up is a rumble,

like a distant train across steel tracks.

The cacophony grows nearer,

assaults the eardrums from every direction.

Then in a crack! the air splits

and navy blue metal slices the sky.

It dips in seemingly impossible patterns

and then climbs toward the yellow sun,

discordant air echoing in its wake.

Persian

She said I looked like a Qajar Princess,

and my soul melted like honey

on that glossy black surface.

As if her comment could atone

for twenty years of passport-less people

balking at my inability to fit into

their Hollywood-purchased stereotypes.