where she usually turned around. It was a lot of territory to cover, but
she had all afternoon.
She began at the used car dealership, its dirty plastic God bless america banner flapping in the breeze. That’s how it was now. Rainbow flags
versus red, white, and blue; peace sign versus the big red poster with the
leftover campaign slogan. Probably it was what had caused her seizure.
Not that she hadn’t already been livid. But these days it was like being in
a constant low-grade war. Even the red-white-and-blue pennants strung
above the car lot made an angry rippling sound. Talia zipped her jacket
and wished she had Gordie with her. Not just for moral support. When
she was little she used to showily hold her mother’s hand to put shopkeepers at ease.
Now her parents were far away, having retired to a scenic, vaguely
lawless Mexican town known for its cut-rate medical procedures.
“Hello!” A young man inside the dealership looked genuinely excited
to see Talia.
Already she felt she was letting him down. “I’m actually not looking
for a car.” She had never owned a car. She made thirty-three thousand
dollars a year.
“Change for the meter?” another, older, jaded man drawled. Talia explained about the ambulance and the fallen jogger. But the words came
out oddly, failing to convey that she was the jogger. The omission made
her feel deceitful. When it became clear that the men knew nothing of
the incident, Talia quickly thanked them and left.
She didn’t know why she had dissembled. Probably it was that she
still felt a pit in her stomach even thinking of the ambulance. Or maybe
she really did believe those men would care more about someone other
Yet she found herself using the same veiled phrasing not just at the
fluorescent-lit liquor store with the big “America First” poster but also at
the hair salon (rainbow stickers on the door), the yoga studio (Tibetan
prayer flags strung across the awning), and the florist whose window
displayed a handwritten pledge:
We believe in Science
We believe in Women’s Rights
We believe in Healthcare for All
We Support our Immigrants