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But Tonight: A Fragment of a Metaphor for Something That Has Yet To Happen

We already have a fire going. I'm sitting cross-legged in my gray polyester men's robe from the Conway. We hear a rackity-tackity sound above: a helicopter. I step outside. Seems to be a traffic incident up on the highway. The lights line up in the distance: reds and whites. Stars or planes? Stop lights or ambulances? The wind lifts and drops the corner of my robe, rustles the few remaining leaves across the stones. I suddenly feel like I'm in ET. I say it out loud when he comes outside: "I suddenly feel like I'm in ET." What's the actress's name? Dee something? The one who played the mother? Her.

He admits he thinks about ET here too. We can't figure out why. Maybe it's the creek.

We watched that film again just over a year ago. When we got to the scene where they find the alien in the creek, white and dying, I cried openly. I'd blanked it out from seeing it when I was younger. Apparently something in me even then didn't want to remember the bad scenes. Something didn't want to think about dying.

But about the bad scenes in real life I'm still curious. Still alert. I run outside, needing to know. Clutching at my bathrobe. I scan the radio for traffic reports. I search the internet. There's an image I carry needlessly with me from a late night in high school when I was driving home from the city: on the southbound highway above me, a fireman carrying a woman from the wreckage of her car. Red and white flashing lights. I slowed the car as I passed. I've always needed to know.

But tonight: home fires burning, the sound of the helicopter dying off into the distance, I walk back inside. I pull my cheap robe around me for warmth. I try to ignore the hole in the shoulder. I try to forget the alien dying in the creek out back, the red and white flashing lights on the highway. We are still here. To know this should be enough.

© Zan McQuade. All rights reserved.

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