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sandwiches, and everyone ate off their laps, dabbing at their lips with paper napkins. Kate ate dutifully, searching the trees. Where are you, little yellow orioles? Pygmy nuthatches? Tiny warblers? She imagined racing across the perfectly-tended lawn, her own wings unfurling, lifting off with the currents. Airborne at last. The sergeant is at her side again. “Is there anything to do in this town?” “Like what?” she asks, hands on her hips. “I’d like to take you somewhere. Buy you a drink.” “Like maybe the Hyatt Regency?” “That could work.” Suddenly cheered by this man, she thinks, why not. It’s Christmas, there are leftovers in the fridge. “Okay.” “Yeah?” “I have a bottle of really good scotch at my place.” “Well, goddamn.” He takes her by the hand and pulls her through the crowd until he finds the dead boy’s mother. “Mrs. Salazar, I want you to meet a friend of mine.” Kate steps forward. The woman, no longer a stranger, takes her in her arms. Kate feels the warm moist breath on her cheek. For a moment the two women remain in the embrace, caught in a world beyond their making. Outside the house, the afternoon has passed. Leaving behind a family in ruin, they walk without speaking or touching, moving through shadows from overhead pine branches until they reach the short distance to her apartment. Up two flights of stairs, she inserts the key in the lock and pushes the door open. “Sorry for the mess. I wasn’t expecting company.” She turns on a lamp and closes the door to the bedroom. A balsam pine stands in the living room, hung with colored lights and angels made of flaxen yarn. “What’s your first name?” His cheeks are pink with the cold. “Jimmy. Who’re you again?” She plugs in the tree lights, pleased with the glow they cast like

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C A R O L I N A Q U A R T E R LY

Profile for Carolina Quarterly

Carolina Quarterly 68.2 Spring/Summer 2019 Sneak Peek  

Carolina Quarterly 68.2 Spring/Summer 2019 Sneak Peek  

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