by Dottie Camptown
Henry was already in line before the official notice instructed all next of kin to show up. Behind him a breathless girl murmured in her cell phone, “localized temporal stasis.” Henry felt around his coat pocket for the birth certificate. He would be in the next group of ten.
Yesterday morning was humdrum. Ellen pedaled ardently on her stationary bike; he tried to proof an article before they left on vacation. (Aberrant Manifestations in Actuarial Science)
She said, “You will L-O-V-E Aruba.”
As always she had picked the destination. The brochure showed a man and a bikini-clad woman falling back into the surf. Bold red lettering said, “Bye-Bye, Winter Sky.” Letting go of the handle bars, she pointed at the never-breaking bank of clouds outside their den window, “How true is that?”
A woman holding a clipboard signaled his group inside. Henry gave Ellen’s name and showed her birth certificate. The woman marked an “X” on a mall map.
“She’s on the west side up escalator. Please don’t touch any of them.”
Henry walked up the stilled steps. Ellen’s back was to him, her ascent an inference. Ignoring the no touch directive, Henry reached under Ellen’s sweater and felt her breasts – warm, unrestrained, halted. She didn’t smack his hand away.
Ellen was static, but Henry was still in motion. He fished a pair of white cotton underwear out of her Victoria Secret’s shopping bag. Resolved they wouldn’t stay clean forever, Henry took them to Aruba.