I half-believed she'd back down up until the morning we drove to Hobby Airport. On the drive there, she had said, "Remember there is no one hundred percent proven method of birth control."
"I'm not sure what you mean." But I thought I did.
"Well, it is important to remember."
And then, at the gate, “Be good.”
In the someday-nostalgic film of my life inside my head she took my hands in hers tenderly, and I said “I will.”
But I nodded instead. I looked back at her as they called for boarding. Fast, long-legged walker. Mama. My mother in pressed jeans and Payless tennis shoes with a clean button-down that had been washed into translucence. I pressed my pointer fingers and thumbs together, forming a frame. What did it mean to be someone who ironed her ten-year-old jeans? I came from inside you, I thought. What would they call her there? Grapes of Wrath, one will say. Your mother's had a hard life, another will say. And very soon I will write long letters late every summer night in Annandale to a boy I love more because he is gone until the fall. He will drive to see me in a lime-green Gremlin in July and I will say goodbye to him, again again again. Lovely long heady goodbyes sweet ripe better than poems. Overbloomed. I will write windows opened to honeysuckle and climbing roses. I miss you I miss you I miss you I miss you.
She kept on walking, big strides, slightly uneven gait. But then she turned back, suddenly, and smiled. She waved, and I waved back. She folded her arms across her chest, smiling open-mouthed, and then they called me for boarding so I had to turn and go.
I felt I'd wronged her in some way I could never take back.
Claudia Smith is the author of two flash fiction collections, The Sky is a Well and Other Shorts (Rose Metal Press), Put Your Head In My Lap (Future Tense Books), and a short story collection, Quarry Light (Magic Helicopter Press). Her stories and essays have appeared in several anthologies and journals, most recently in The Southwest Review, Another Chicago Magazine, The Texas Review, Gay Magazine, Lithub, and Norton’s New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction. Her site is https://www.claudiasmithwriter.com