Concise Prose. Enough Said.
purple feathers backround pattern

Border Crossing

At the first station, a girl jumped from the train for a cola, leaving
her notebook on the table, her jacket on the back of the chair. Weeping,
she chased the train when we left her. The student with straw-colored
hair put his hands on my shoulders to say: Don't. He was from Warsaw or
Berlin. I pretended to misunderstand because we were just then crossing
the border between comfort and terror. For fifty miles, I watched the
space she once occupied. Until the engineer wiped his face with the
sleeve of her jacket. Until the student tore a page from the notebook to
write the address of a coffee shop he wanted to visit. We passed a field
with a scarecrow, unshorn sheep, a village so poor they licked salt from
each others' faces. A family got on in Lodz and sat down at her table,
pushing aside the few molecules of her breath that lingered. At the
Pension, I climbed stairs in the green hallway that narrowed until they
disappeared into the wall, a point I marked X, with the pencil I had
taken from her satchel.

Janet McAdams' fiction and poetry have appeared in storySouth, femspec,
TriQuarterly, Salt,
and Shenandoah. She is the author of The Island of
Lost Luggage
. More of her writing is available at her website.

Photo courtesy of Eric Feldman.


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