the twelfth of october

i attended a writing workshop in houston this morning. for one of the exercises, we were to grab an object from a ziploc bag and write something about it. we weren’t supposed to be too choosy. so i reached into the bag, turned my head so that i couldn’t focus on the contents at all, and pulled out the first thing my fingers found.

a slip of paper. a ticket stub from a film festival. dated october twelfth. 
my older brother’s birthday.
for the previous assignment we were to choose from a handful of photos and write about the person pictured. for this assignment, we could use that same person or make up someone new. i’d arrived late, so i used the same person. and we were supposed to place the object on or inside a nightstand. 
on the back of the picture i’d selected was a name (chandra), a date (10-31-86), and a number (16). so i subtracted sixteen from eighty-six and wrote the following:
she was twenty-seven then.
chandra slowly pulled out the drawer of her nightstand and withdrew a ticket stub. since the only other thing in the drawer was a ring, she didn’t need to search for the ticket–a memento of the best day.
of the worst.
she missed him. especially on a day like this when they should’ve been together to see their daughter off. the daughter who looked like her father. who had his dark eyes and hair. his smile. his dimple in her left cheek.
there was a small bit of extra paper that had clung to the edge when the usher had torn it. chandra fingered it with her right hand, tempted to tear it so that the perforation was even, the edge clean, but she resisted.
the thirty-third chicago international film festival. the ice storm.

in october. on the twelfth.
his birthday.
his death day.
she ran a hand over the ticket and set it back in the drawer.
sixteen years ago.
“mama!”
she shoved the drawer shut. “coming.”

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