Little Life

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SHE HAS A favorite sweater she wears when she’s really depressed or behaving strangely, because it makes her feel like no one could fuck with her, a long wool sweater that reaches her knees, with soft hanging sleeves and a big collar. Corvus walks through baggage claim aimlessly, still feeling the ghost of the airplane vibrating all around her, the cold air swells life into her ears as she steps into the bright terminal, into waves on waves of faces, anonymous people. Airports secretly thrill her, as though somehow she feels closer to death here or another realm, walking in slowness from escalator to escalator. There is a boy outside arrivals and departures waiting for his ride who offers Corvus a cigarette. He lights her off while she sits on her suitcase, staring at her reflection in his sunglasses. She smiles and says she’s new to California and he says, You’re a natural already.

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Easing her tensed neck relaxed against his shoulder, Corvus watches a plane disappear behind clouds and readies her body for anything. She has the makings to detach herself, to endure pain with nonchalance, drifting almost to sleep, incidentally jet lagged with this new stranger. His ride is a Jeep with a driver that looks exactly like him, so uncannily alike it scares Corvus.
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Both men can easily lift and carry her, both men want to strongly lavish her despite the other man, and both men are too rough with her. They both come at the same time on her chest and she carefully rubs it in. When they ask her to stay, the both of them naked and spread on the floor and the bed in the hotel room, she says, I can’t. I’m here for business not pleasure, but thank you boys, that was nice, and she leaves the moment, walking down the narrow hallway confidently not looking back as though she owns every floor in the building, as though she can move all the elevators in the building with her mind, every button for every floor is lit for every sensation she feels right now in her limbs, and no one else is here. She is alone waiting for the elevator, the window behind her is pitch black from the night outside. It is a little past four in the morning. Her body aches with the slightest memory of being pulled even further apart. The smallest things take courage and weirdness and sometimes complete blind effort, she thinks. Corvus enters the hotel kitchen, steals a muffin off a white plate on the counter, and leaves through the back door, gently shutting the latch behind her. Still dark outside, she looks for the main road with an address to a house in the woods memorized by heart. In the surveillance tapes, Corvus walks with a muffin in her mouth, a bloodied sweater tied around her waist. She drips unknowingly behind her as the camera turns. She shivers like no one would ever know.

Corvus answers the phone still vibrating in her hand, discovering a dozen missed calls, quickly glancing at the screen before saying hello.

The voice says, You weren’t at the airport.

Corvus says, I know. But I’m home now, feeling something like pain somewhere on her body.

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The Author

Richard Chiem (b. 1987) is the authors of You Private Person, a book of short stories published by Scrambler Books, 2012. His work has appeared in City Arts Magazine, Thought Catalog, and Everyday Genius. He lives in Seattle with his girlfriend and fat cat.

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