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"Bluebird" by Kevin Brennan

She always loved airports.

Her dad, robbed of having a son among his three children, used to take her to the parking area at the end of the runway to watch the planes take off. Her sisters were uninterested but she loved it. For a long time she thought he did it only for her.

Really he was doing it for him.

When her marriage failed and she was still only in her twenties, she took to spending time at the airport even when she wasn’t going on a trip. She liked to sit in the main terminal and watch the travelers check in, pulling their wheeled luggage along and gazing at the panel of ETAs and ETDs. She’d read or listen to string quartets through her earbuds, and then, after a couple of hours, she’d go home feeling revived.

In search of a bathroom one time she wandered into a long hallway that didn’t seem to lead anywhere. It had a firehose in the wall behind a glass case. It had a struggling ficus backed into a niche where it didn’t get any light. High windows threw some sunlight beside the niche, so she dragged the ficus there and watered it with her Evian. Every time she went to the airport, she’d go there to check on the ficus and discover that someone had moved it back to the niche. She’d set it out again in the the sun patch and water it, and it started doing better and better.

She saw a man look at his watch after checking in and thought he had too much time to kill before his flight. This was all on impulse and later she was surprised at herself, but she went up to him and asked if he wanted to see something special. He was nice looking, a little older than her, and had sweet eyes. She took him to the hallway with the ficus and showed him how she had nursed it back to health.

Then she took his hand and led him into the niche, and she unbuttoned her blouse and said he could have her if he wanted her.

When they were done and he had to catch his plane, he asked her name.

“You can call me Bluebird,” she said and went skipping away.

Her father used to call her Bluebird.

For a while she did this regularly, finding just the right man, showing him her ficus, and offering herself to him. These men were always grateful, then bewildered when she told them her name and skipped away.

It was better than her marriage.

But then she chose a man quite a bit older, and he wept when they were finished, and that made her wonder what he was thinking. His eyes were something other than bewildered when she said her name. They were full of sorrow.

Kevin Brennan is the author of eight novels, as well as stories and poetry that have appeared in many online and print journals. A Best Microfiction nominee, he's also editor of The Disappointed Housewife, a literary magazine for writers of offbeat and idiosyncratic fiction, poetry, and essays. Kevin lives in California's Sierra foothills, where he cavorts among the pines and writes anomalous indie songs for his wife.

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