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April 2018, vol 14 no 1

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Bryan Rickert

Stoplight

At the bottom of the exit ramp I'm the first one in line at the stoplight. I hate being the first one because the first one at the light always has to be the first to awkwardly ignore the person with the sign. If you're all the way in the back than it's easy to stare straight ahead and drive on past when the light turns green. Trying to avoid eye contact, I glance at her sign. "Anything helps God bless." I pull my elbow in the open window as she quietly walks past. Through my window I can hear her conversation with the driver two cars back. He offers her twenty dollars for sex. Every car hears it and we all watch from our mirrors. We all stare at her thinness and her hunger and wait. After a pause she slowly walks back up to the light. As she passes my car I slip five dollars out the open window. I don't know if she'll drink it or put it in her arm but anything would be better than the guy two cars back.

For a moment I actually see her and look in her eyes. With nothing else to do I say, "Don't sell yourself short, kid." She smiles. The light turns green and we all go forward from there.

wild sage –
all our efforts to kill it
only makes it grow

 


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