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Dad was holding my arm like the banister to a steep staircase as we passed the street performers. All the costumes and pyrotechnics and comedy scared him half to death. The crowd was loving it, though, whole goddamned sidewalk started cracking up, losing their minds. Spitting and hollering. “Scooch in as close as possible, folks, we don’t have a permit for the hotel property!” one of the performers said, their voice unnaturally distorted through some janky portable speaker. Dad, deciding to give them a chance, emptied his pockets, throwing coins and paper money to the asphalt as if it might soon explode, then ran as only an old man can.


Bradley is coming over so I move the coffee mugs he gifted us from Pancake Haus from the third shelf to the second shelf in the cupboard. This is to say, Yes, we use them, on special occasions only. It is to say, Not only do we use them, we cherish them. They are not too small! It is a harmless, domestic white lie. And it covers our asses if, for some reason, he opens the cupboard.

I go back to the television, waiting for Bradley to stop by. Minutes later, Amber opens the cupboard. She asks me, naïvely, why have the mugs been moved? I am in shambles that an explanation is even required. Has she not considered the thought experiment?

I ask her, maybe with too much arrogance, who is coming over? First, I am curious if she knows. I ask her, Is the Pope coming over or is Bradley? Who gave us those mugs? Did the Pope give us those mugs, or did Bradley? Is it not obvious why I moved the coffee mugs Bradley gifted us from Pancake Haus from the third shelf to the second shelf in the cupboard? I ask honestly, come on, think!

Amber says stop smiling like that. She says stop treating her like she is so stupid. She pushes a stool over in the kitchen and rushes into the bathroom to cry.

She gets a few good ones out but less than usual, collecting her tears into a little aerosol bottle, so she can spray them on her hair later tonight. We are going to the show.

Recognizing the error in my ways, I step in to apologize. I curl my arm around her waist, give a slight hip nudge, as if to say, Shh shh, look what came out of this. Look what we get now.

“Your hair will look golden,” I say.

A harmless, domestic white lie.


Paul Rousseau is a disabled writer from Minnesota. His work has appeared in or is coming soon from Roxane Gay's The Audacity, Catapult, Wigleaf, X-R-A-Y, Okay Donkey, Hippocampus, Daily Drunk, JMWW, Rejection Letters, Waxwing, Bending Genres, Jellyfish Review, Variant Lit, and others. You can follow him on Twitter: @Paulwrites7.

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