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I love telling friends about the times I forget
to lock the closets that help keep Jesse safe
so he can live in this apartment on his own
and I catch him pouring a bottle of dishwasher
detergent into the sink or shredding a pack
of multi colored post-its as he sits at the kitchen
counter, flips them into the air like confetti.
He freezes, tries not to look at me and places
his hand over his mouth as this boundless
sound spills out, his eyes bubbly blue champagne,
while his body shakes and shivers in happiness.
His mom calls it the best laugh and it’s one
of the few things we still agree on. I try to look
stern as I count seconds until his laughter slows
down and I move closer, poke his soft ticklish
spots to stretch this moment. I tell myself
next visit I’ll buy the biggest bottle of soda,
place it on the table where he can find it
as I shut the bathroom door behind me.
November, and the ground is feathered white,
the wind swirls a light sprinkling. We’ll start
our weekend with a City Bus trip to Starbucks.
He looks at his lap top, tells me the exact time
and I say let’s get dressed . He says, no socks.
I say, yes socks. He says short sleeves. I say,
long sleeves, it’s freezing out there. He says,
light jacket. I say, heavy coat. Red jacket.
Green coat. Back and forth, four more times
until I say hurry we’ll miss the bus. He streaks
to his room while I grab my coat, tug my hat
over my ears and toss him the keys to lock
the door as I try to zip my coat. Halfway down
the hall, he starts cracking up, falling over
himself, laughing. I look at him. He’s wearing
the green coat and zipping the red jacket
over it. I’m laughing hard, reaching for a hug.
Jesse pulls his head back, stares into my eyes
to make sure I know he did this all for me.
Copyright 2022 Tony Gloeggler. First published in West Texas Review.