fiction

The Book of Dead Birds by Gayle Brandeis

I remember the first time I flew. I was four years old. My mother decided to take me to Balboa Park for the afternoon. I watched the back of her short-sleeved blouse as we crossed the parking lot to the playground; the sky blue fabric tightened, then loosened, tightened, then loosened, across her shoulder blades, pointy as chicken wings. I tried to catch up, but my mother was too fast. Even then, I knew she didn't like to be seen with me in public. I knew it was because of my skin--so much darker than my mother's, dark like the treats she made out of dates that morning, the ones that stuck between my teeth, filling my mouth with a prickly sweetness.

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