Swan Huntley

I lost my sandwich at LaGuardia. Maybe in the bathroom. I went to the bathroom before the flight boarded. Or maybe it was at Hudson News, where I had to remove all the contents of my backpack to find my wallet. (That was embarrassing, and annoyed the tiny, pointy-faced woman in line behind me, who tapped her tiny foot with so much adrenaline I thought she might explode.) I bought a fruity pack of Mentos because I love Mentos and an issue of GQ because Jon Hamm was on the cover. The check-out person looked at the magazine and said, "How old are you?" I said, "I am thirteen." That was a lie. I was twelve.

I was going to Paris to meet my dad, who was there for business. He would show me the Louvre. He wasn't French, but I think he wanted to be — he loved France so much. I imagined it happening like this: I would tell him at an outdoor café. He would peer over his pink wine and say, either (a) "I love you just the way you are," or (b) "Cool beans" — he said that a lot. Then we would look at the swans floating by in the river and everything would be fine.

I'd told my mother the night before. I thought it would be a good idea to do this right before I left, in case she got mad. "Mom, I'm gay." She said nothing for a long time. She stared blankly at my little sister's white plastic horse figurine because I was holding it and said nothing. Then her head jerked, like she was just waking up, and she said, in the same voice as the robot cartoon with the blue legs: "I'll make you a sandwich for your trip tomorrow."

I didn't realize I'd lost my sandwich until halfway through the flight. (I was too busy reading about Jon Hamm to think about food.) And then something dawned on me. Maybe there was no sandwich. Maybe my mother had never made one.

Swan Huntley's debut novel, WE COULD BE BEAUTIFUL, will be out from Penguin/Random House later this year.

Detail of photo on main page courtesy of Chris Bird.

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