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No good choices

April 23, 2017

She had dreamed of learning to play the flute, of writing a sonata, or maybe even a symphony. But then the coughing began, and every day, her lungs grow more raw, and she knew she needed medical care, but it would cost more than she had saved.

She waited, and felt her pants slip around her hips, felt the gap between her skin and the billowy shirts that had once been fitted.

Why didn’t you come sooner? said the doctor with the saddest eyes.

There are no good choices, she said. I lost them all along the way.

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Marching for science

April 22, 2017

In the bathroom, my toddler son has sunk a piece of paper under water in a plastic tub. He peers at it, and declares the single letter and two scribbles on it to be his name, writ large.

What do you think will happen? I ask.

I think it will fly all the way up to the sky, he says. His arms lift with the emphasized all, his whole body certain. He pronounces sky like chai, like life.

Is that your hypothesis? I ask.

Yeah, he says, and he marches out of the bathroom and back, awaiting results.

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Something rotten

April 21, 2017

When she was a child, spring brought warm breezes and dry days, blooming flowers and opportunities to play outside without fear. Then, she grew up and learned everything is not always what it seems.

It has grown cold in America, she said. Summer is coming, but I don’t feel any of the warmth I remember.

Perhaps things had been as good as they appeared, or perhaps she just grew up and had more information at her disposal. Regardless, now the perfume of flowers had given way to the stench of something rotten, and the weather was all wrong.

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Signs

April 20, 2017

The progressives line the intersection with signs, a moving, living billboard that shouts slogans at the cars. Black Lives Matter, they say, or I Love A Lesbian. They shimmy and shout, determined to make each driver think, if only for a moment, about the bigger picture.

It would be so easy to drive along, listening to a song that has nothing to do with this time, and stop considering how to resist, on each dark day. But I am grateful for each sign, each reminder there is more fighting to do, no matter how tired we each may be.

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Absolution

April 19, 2017

Can we be saved? How easy would it be to walk up the steps and lower ourselves into the pool? How easy would it be to sink our heads below the surface of an ever-flowing river of sanity?

But if we do not accept absolution soon, if we do not wash away the sins of our choices, it will be too late. Our nation is a piece of paper that starts on top of the water, slowly taking on volume, the words blurring, then dissolving to nothingness.

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The guarantee

April 18, 2017

When they met, she saw him as a guarantee—no matter what happened to her later, she would always be taken care of. Even though so little love passed between them, she would never be scared of poverty again.

She read all the things people said about her. She winced at the half-truths, the blatant lies, the guesses that hit far too close to home. She knew he would never be the kind of man to whisper to her in the dark. She didn’t need someone on the Internet to remind her she chose to never be an equal.

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Racing

April 17, 2017

She sprinted through the woods, skimming over roots and rocks and slats of small bridges, racing from the world, racing from the news, racing from herself.

The night before, he had played a song of peace on his guitar, and she had been able to forget, but when dawn broke, she looked out the window at the smoke rising from tiny fires that never seemed to go out and remembered again.

So, every day, she tried to outrun every story of suffering like each life depended on it. Every day, she fell further and further behind.