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Creative Writing Assignment

She doesn’t like my songs anymore. I try singing them on our visit – in the canoe, in the car, but she just smiles absently and looks the other way.

After dinner we have drinks with Kelly. Kelly bought some Bailey’s special and I forget that I’m supposed to be drinking it slow until I catch her eye over the rim of my juice glass and realize I am really putting it away, drinking it like it’s water. It just tastes so good, like coffee and vanilla and cream! I forgot. I am embarrassed. And now it is too late because in the middle of telling my favorite joke I slur over the word ‘buffalo’. It comes out ‘bullfflo’ and I am so embarrassed I don’t even get to the punchline. There is silence for a minute and she asks if I’m alright and I nod my head, sharp—too sharp?—and she turns to Kelly and asks about her garden. I am grateful she can ask about things like Kelly’s garden because those are the normal questions and I can never think to ask them.

She’s at work and I’m out walking on my own. In the sunshine, and I am so happy to be visiting her in this place, this wonderful city. I am walking along the street and I smile at the people and I sing a song in my head. I look at my feet in their tennis shoes clopping along the sidewalk and I imagine I am a horse and this road isn’t paved yet. It reminds me of my sister and how she always wanted to play Stallions and it makes me laugh out loud which startles me and I clamp my hand over my mouth and look quickly around to see if anyone noticed.

At lunch she is wearing a low-cut top and I can’t stop staring at her cleavage. I can’t believe the fact of it. She’s tired and is looking at the people walking past on the street and I’m looking at her cleavage and the sugar packets in front of me and imagining how it would feel: the resistance of paper on paper as I pull a packet out of the middle of the tray; the easy heft as I underhand it right into the space between her breasts and the shirt. Then I imagine the way she’d look at me and I’m not sure anymore if it would make her laugh so I put my hands on the table instead, palms down, hard.
“Your fingers,” she says. I look down and they are twitching, like normal. Nervous fingers, is what I tell her. Truth is, they move all the time like that, thumping against tablecloths, thrumming on my steering wheel, tapping on my own lap—and I don’t know why. I sit on my hands.

At the airport she hugs me in the car. She wants to know if I have my ID, if I’m sure about what time my flight is. She already made me double-check before we got in the car so I tell her everything is alright. I thank her for the visit. Tell her I love her.
“Call me if you need anything,” she says as I heft my bag onto the sidewalk. I tell her I will. I am already thinking about the M&Ms I’m going to buy and hoping I don’t have to sit next to anyone who might want to talk.
“I love you, mom,” she says before I close the door. “I’m so glad you came out.”
“Me too,” I say, and stand and wave at her as she drives away.


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