I let a stranger buy me a French toast breakfast. My train had been
delayed and I was hungry and had an earache. I'd spent all my paycheck
on the ticket. When we sat down he took off his hat and I asked him to
please put it back on. Without the hat, the man resembled a toe. He
drank coffee while I ate. What's in your locket, he asked. A memory, I
said, trying to sound enigmatic and over eighteen. The locket was just
empty. I'd found it earlier in the ladies room. I rubbed my ear with my
knuckle, asked for more.
My aunt said she'd take me with her to Australia if I agreed to dress
like a man. She got me a boy's suit from the Salvation Army. A couple
of puffy jogging suits. A fedora, a baseball cap, and a haircut. I'm
sorry but this is the world we live in, she said. I do not wish to be
preyed upon. My aunt had orange hair and crookedly drawn eyebrows. She
wore lots of jewels. Our first night in Sydney we went to a pub and a
man punched me in the face.
In Spain, they let you stay for free in the nice resorts if you're
willing to spend a few hours every day talking to businessmen who want
to learn English. You do your time then you get to hang out in the spa
or the pool. I broke the rules and let one of the men buy me a drink.
Something like sangria with 7-Up. He said, how am I doing? What is
inside your—necklace? Locket, I said. It's a locket. I leaned
across the table and flicked it open.
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