Maryann Aguiar


The lines always wash off come morning. This morning or the next (the question they ask is "Do you know how much sick leave you have left?"). All she needs is soap and a sink. It helps to sratch at them, even though it leaves her arms red and sore. The water slops over onto her bare feet, but she's only looking at her reflection in the small mirror. The light leaves her face green, and the old glass makes her distorted.

Her hands are cramped from the force of the scrubbing, and shivering from something else. She'll be fine after coffee, which she downs like a shot; chases it with two glasses of water and three aspirin. Skipping breakfast seems like a good idea after a quick look in the freezer.

Her bed is made, but still smells like ashes. Pantyhose, skirt, blouse, blue blazer. Brush. Blush. Red pumps, pearls.

She's out the door by eight am.


The lines branch out brown in a mostly-perfect grid. The tile might have been blue at one time, but he suspects that it probably always smelled of piss and French fries (but the carpet is worse). His hand reflexively reaches out to slap at his hat, and change jingles like an alarm clock. He's swearing now, under his breath, and with surprising fluency. He wasn't supposed to fall asleep, and he always falls asleep. The morning rush begins to start: Tall legs in slacks or stockings. Grey, blue, khaki, and absolutely disgusting.

Coming going. Coming going. There's always somewhere to be and now please could you just find it I bought a seat on this flight I'm not paid to be late no thank you shut up and let me sleep before we have to go okay?

He's been listening to the terminal announcements for so long that he almost doesn't hear it when his radio crackles to life. "... in the Rotunda, blue jacket, red shoes. Proceed with caution."

It's 8.32, and he hasn't had a shower in over twenty four hours, but at least there's a payoff.


The seat is hard and he wonders if they're better in the lounge. They probably have food in there too. He can't remember the last time he ate. He holds tightly to his luggage, feels terribly out of place. Why did he come here, anyway? But, it's not like there was a lot of choice.

For all he knows, he's not even supposed to be here. He dozed off earlier, but woke up with a start when a man in bright striped pants sat down next to him. It was sort of scary. The guy kept touching his ear and talking to himself.

I know things he thinks. I've seen movies. There are crazy people all over the place, and none of them are speaking the right language. He moved a little closer to the information booth after that, and kept his back to the pictures of ocean vistas and cityscapes.

The big clock reads 8.30 when he sees her. He thinks he can hear her red shoes clicking as she walks toward him smiling. He is reminded, absurdly, of clowns and wizards. He drops his bags and runs.


"I missed you, mama. You didn't come!"

She smiles wider. "I'm here now."

"I don't understand anything here."

"I know."