by Beverly Carol Lucey

If she’d not left her dog and her husband at home, to sit in an airport with a bag that holds other bags—of Cheerios, of pills, of makeup, and the brown onion-skin-coated bookstore bag, thin, holding the just-as-thin volume she read before the flight—she would not have had the thought. If she’d read, instead, the books she brought or watched the airport version of the news that had no accidents in it, she would not have had the thought that she could leave a life behind and start a new one, and so would have been on the return flight home just days later. Perhaps with presents.

But a book, a line from a book, a stranger’s look, a shatter of glass behind her in the waiting area, a hissed “you can’t tell me what to do,” a bathroom attendant singing, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,” to the tiled walls, a blonde woman in a far corner letting a man take out her right breast from its knit halter to kiss it goodbye, long and hard, while other people pretend not to look, changes everything. She needs coffee. The coffee, the forbidden Krispy Kreme, the honey flakes that drop on the book, on the line that reveals the image that causes the thought, “I don’t have to be invisible,” means that today is not the start of a round trip, the way she thought when she left the dog and her husband at home. She will miss that dog.

Beverly Carol Lucey published short fiction in Portland Maine MagazineFlint River Review 1999, Moxie Winter Edition 2000 (CA) TW3 ezine December 1999. Four of her stories appear in an anthology called We Teach Them All (Stenhouse Press). The author lives in Georgia and can be reached by email.