Daysong Graphics





There. I wrote something. Seven words down and ninety-three to go. What kind of English teacher makes you write for a whole week on the topic “After”? I mean, just last week I turned in eight freakin’ pages—eight!—on some dead guy who wrote stuff, like, a hundred years ago.

You’ll probably never read this, anyway, Ms. Juarez. Thirty-five students times five journal entries tells me you don’t have the time. Now that I think about it, you’ve probably got four other English classes where you’re pulling the same stunt.

Guess what?

I’m done right now. (100 words exactly)


Okay. Yesterday was practice. Don’t worry—I’ll address the topic today. My dad will kill me if I get a B.

So, the topic “After.” After what? After class? That would be lunch.

After prom? Now there’s a thought, not that I want to talk to a teacher about it. Anyway, it’s not like I’m even going—not that I couldn’t get a date. Seriously, I’ve got guys throwing themselves at me in the hallway.

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Hotel Lobby

Floor 4

Floor 3

Floor 2

Lobby. Ding.

Gloria inhales a jagged breath. She has anticipated this moment for over a year. Countless times, through snowstorms and heat waves, she has imagined the reunion with Justin and the expression on Justin’s upturned face.

She clutches her pocketbook to her side and fiddles with a tissue, crumpling it into a sodden white mass. Gloria tries to steady her breathing, to think only of greeting him affectionately, though something bitter and ugly branches out from within her. Her only son lives overseas in Thailand, building a church when she needs him here. Her arthritis has returned and her daughter acts as though it pains her to visit.

Justin’s last e-mail insisted they meet at a hotel. Their 2:00 A.M. landing into Seattle-Tacoma would not be conducive for a joyful reunion. Justin and Emily had exchanged vows five years ago. Gloria rubs her hands, tissue smashed in between, when she pictures the children they could have had already, but this church planting business . . . it captivates them.

Her lips and eyebrows lift in eagerness to see Justin, his arms spread wide, like he used to do as a boy preparing to fly through the playground. She scans the lobby, absent of any man. The only two people Gloria spots are a woman with her back to her, sitting in a leather chair, and a concierge, yawning so hippopotamus-like, Gloria notices her silver fillings. Gloria whistles out a loud breath, suddenly feeling dampness pool under her arms. Fearing she forgot deodorant, she debates returning to her room, but then down the corridor her vision morphs before her.

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ACFW Book Of The Year
Fossil Hunter