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One Lucky Strike

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When she took the key out of the box, she heard a rattling in her chest, the same one she heard when he died. Yes, that sound made her tears come down like waterfalls. She had always told herself to take things as they come, now here she was, crushed and crumpled by this tiny piece of bronze.

June 16, 1953

The clouds were high in the sky, the sun was out. Her shoes click- clacked on the sidewalk as she ran. She was trying to show how happy she was. She took in deep breaths, swirled around like wind. Summer was hot, and she was bursting like a watermelon on fire. Ice was far from her now, lush sounds were in her ears, dancing, swinging hips, feet and hands moving, moving. In circles, squares, triangles and octagons. The white lily flowers on the bank were fragrant with excitement.

Exhilaration was here to stay.

Her hands flew all around. Her hair, a shade of anthracite, flowed around her face. Her mother had told her everything, but how much did she remember? Well, she would eventually find out. But that was not important now. Was this the end or the beginning? Perspective was important here, it all depends on your perspective.

Two pillars on a white stone, the glass house in Colorado, dirt roads and hazy starscapes. She remembered the red shirt, with the pocket that always held a pack of Lucky Strikes. He never went anywhere without them, until that one strike took him down. Be careful, he told her. Don’t go near them trains. They were driving his baby blue truck, needed to get gas. On the way, they stopped at the train tracks to have a picnic. Sandwiches, potato salad, pasta salad, olives that she put on her fingers.

They packed up and got back in the leather seats. But the car wouldn’t start. Then came a long, low whistle. He suddenly couldn’t get up. He grabbed at his chest, which throbbed with pain. As the train came closer and closer, she tried to pull his collapsed body out, but he was too heavy.

Everything stopped, and despite the noise of the approaching train, everything was quiet.

Quiet was something she loved.

She could hear both their heartbeats in sync, in rhythm with each other for the last time. Just as quickly, time seemed to speed up and slam the life out of him.
She knelt by his head and began to cry.


The shaving cream and pancakes on Sunday, the papers strewn about that she wished she could read, the cool summer nights watching the stars, hot cocoa after her bath, his love for color and words. That was all gone now. All that was left of him was his red shirt and cigarettes.


He had taken off his shirt in an attempt to get to his chest. It lay on the ground, just under the car. She walked slowly over, bent down and picked it up gently. She kissed his head, then put the shirt on and put his cigarettes in the pocket, carefully buttoning the button. As she walked away, she took one look back.

With tears streaming down her face, she forced herself to walk into the light. Her knight in shining armor, informally known as Daddy, had been taken out in one unlucky strike.





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