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a peaceful protest

I was 16, and the thought of being forced to mention God as part of the pledge of allegiance was too hypocritical an act for me to play along with. Each day of high school began with this mundane recitation, as most people just stood with their hand jutting from a hip, the other dangling across their chest as they counted out the seconds until they could sit back down. They leaned against desks, and talked through it about what party and where it would be, if there would be a keg or a bonfire in the woods. I recited the words, omitting the "under God" part as a sort of half-baked protest. I was raised to flaunt my family's ramshackle atheism, as a choice of smug pride. We knew better, was the prevailing logic.

But one day, I could not stand and say any of it. It felt so rote, so hollow, so devoid of choice. There was no law that said I was required to say it. I knew this was my right, a form of free speech. My homeroom teacher was a legendary drinker, a trash-talking re…

the old place


Passing the old place, a phantom wind runs up my leg and across the back of my neck. I have not been here in eight years. I do not go closer than the driveway. There is the bald spot of lawn where my Weber stood, where E rolled around on a blanket as I slow cooked ribs on Saturday afternoons. The house looks clean, under a fresh coat of paint.

There was a light on the corner of a building that turned on when you walked under it. E would be in my arms long after the sun had gone down and I had to be careful or the light would wake her up.

I can admit it now. I talked to that light. It was a familiar presence in a broken life. I waited for the telltale click and the bloom of shadow and the click of the timer that would turn it back off in a few minutes.

I told that light may things. My fears, my wishes. I called it friend. I can remember telling it goodbye, looking up at brick and metal, talking to a piece of hardware.


Comments

liv said…
sentimental journey

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