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The Birthday Dance - Friday, Dec. 20, 2019
Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019 @ 7:05 pm
My alarm goes off well before dawn, so early that I'm not groggy. Jolted awake and bright eyed.
I load up the car while the kettle boils water on the stove. Snow is falling, dry dusty snow that puffs up around my feet as I walk to and from the house. I grind coffee that I bought on my birthday. Fancy coffee from Portland. With my travel mug in one hand, I lock the door behind me. I don't tell him that I'm leaving; I don't say goodbye.
The highways are glazed and lonely. Snow swirls in flat figures hypnotically in the headlights.
I am driving slowish: eighty kilometers per hour, when I'd normally drive this at one ten. As I enter a curvy stretch that hugs a cliff beside a lake, the tires lose traction and the car fishtails. My eyes dart to the concrete barrier, and I wonder if it will stop the car. I hold the steering and hold my breath and let the car do the work - I can feel the traction control doing magical things in the wheels. Towards the end of the curve, the tires gains purchase, and with that it's all over.
An hour later, I pull off the highway. I park in front of a bakery. I order a coffee while looking into the glass case. I have pie for breakfast.
As my distance from him grows, so does my power. The tense parts of me relax. I listen to happy music.
Josh texts me to see if I'm OK.
The flowers ride beside me in the passenger seat, the seatbelt strapped around them to keep them from falling over. It seemed merciful to remove them from the house. I park and look at the flowers and then to temperature reporting on the dash. They will freeze and be ruined if I leave them here. I carry the bouquet into the office and realize that I have to explain them.
"Surprise! I'm here!" I say to a coworker as I sit down at a spare desk.
"And with flowers! What's the occasion? Birthday? Anniversary?" he asks.
I scramble for an uncomplicated answer.
"Sympathy," I reply.