out of nowhere I flash back to my elementary school – specifically, this one classroom along an extended corridor, with a door on either end of the hallway, both leading to the same place. I can feel the glossy paint finish under my fingertips as I graze my hand along the wall – some type of cinderblock painted a dozen times over.

I can see inside the room with those low, wide, crank-out windows; see the end of the hallway with that big display wall, posterboard stapled to cork with announcements and bubble letters and cartoon flowers. the art room around the corner, to the left. I wonder if those teachers are dead now. some of them must be, or maybe they’re just retired. I can hear the glass of the casing slide open and closed with a satisfying weight, the same weight of the magnetic-spring front cover of the stereo stack at my aunt’s house. she’s probably mad that I didn’t call on mother’s day. I wouldn’t be able to begin to tell her all the ways she’d failed her godmotherly duties.

no family will call on my birthday because I don’t exist to them anymore, but I’ll get a lot of facebook posts. false sense of community encouraged; noted. none of this is real. I can see new wrinkles today. forty beckons, thirty-nine comes first. the years go so fast, that old woman who said, “it’s always either fourth of july, or christmas. there isn’t any in-betweeen.” I thought she was crazy but I can see now that she’s right.