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“So, are you coming to my Memorial Day flag burning?”

The question slices through the air, and me lying spread-eagled on the grass cannot volley it back.

I turn over onto my side and mumble, “Dude, I can feel the earth rotating.”

I am high.

He grabs my foot and again asks, “Flag burning, Memorial Day. Are you coming?”

I hate when people touch my feet. I peek at him wondering if he knows that factoid about me and is doing it just to irritate me. Intuitive bastard. Or maybe I told him and I forgot.

Cause I am high.

He starts to poke my sole pressure point.

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”


“Never mind.”

I sit up, kick my feet out of his hold, and tuck my legs underneath me.

“Dude, my Ma’s dead.”

He waits to hear more.

“She’s a vet. And, they gave me her–”

And, all of a sudden I am there. I am sitting in the folding chair borrowed from the V.A. in my borrowed, ill-fitting suit smelling of trash bags. Every time someone squeezed me in a hug a waft of Hefty would make me want to itch and throw up.

The chaplain goes on his knee and tells me the flag is on behalf of a grateful nation and holds up the red and white triangle for me to take.

I just want to punch the flag out of his hand and stomp his face and run away.

Just run till I get to a place where my Ma is alive frying Spam and eggs with too much soy sauce.

Just run till the pain moves from my heart to my lungs.

Instead, I just sit there, and he places her on my lap.

“I can’t go.”

I look at him without blinking so the tears don’t fall.

He looks down-unreadable.