Sitting on the steps of the back porch, she tells me how the world is against her, how this is a lifelong battle, piled up, trying to crush her. Opening my mouth is just another question, light as a feather, but still enough weight to bring her down.

Little does she know, I’m already airdropped a thousand miles behind enemy lines.

My heart is a semi-truck parked on our working class lawn, not enough room in the driveway. My mind is out back, at the bottom of the creek— it’s floated down the Meramec and back, spread out into a swamp, pausing to hear the white water delta taking us out to sea, lost under the stars before finding home.

No furniture, just a few old paperback books. The kids left indentations from writing notes on the screens of our cell phones. I wish I could make out their first words.

We decide to pick the fruit of our garden before the possums get them: purple & red heirloom tomatoes still hot from the sun, and a squash big enough to hollow out and store our treasures.

She finds her old backpack in the basement full of bundles of dirty money, packed to the brim, wrapped in rubber bands— a one-time campaign contribution.

We’re royalty.

She debates between bright pink and purple as we drive to the stadium, ready to hear the ultimate decision in the competition for the world’s most beautiful slum.


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