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Barry Graham

APOLLO 77 (1986)

Suzie smoked Lucky Strikes and read her friendsí palms while they gobbled Quaaludes and listened to Conway Twitty records in the least damp corner of my motherís basement. The longest line on my motherís left hand intersected with the second longest in the center of her palm. Suzie, eyes closed, rubbed the spot with her middle finger, over and over. In the same year Apollo dissolves in the sky, your most beloved son from a train shall die. I slid off my motherís lap, tiptoed up the stairs and into my brother Ericís bedroom. I stood beside him, watching his chest rise and fall, then reached down and grabbed encyclopedia A from the big pile of books beneath his bed. Apollo. Sun God: truth, prophecy, ill-health, deadly plague, healing, poetry. I knew I had to die.

It was seventy-seven seconds from the time the train blew its whistle until it intersected with the trail we trekked every Saturday every summer to the small pond behind the cemetery at the Presbyterian Church. We always went together, Mom, Eric, and me. I planned it perfectly. The train was black and the sky was robinís egg blue. I heard the whistle. I waited thirty-seven seconds then headed for the tracks. I picked up speed. I ran, fast, faster than the train, faster than sound and light and the space time continuum. I tripped on the edge of the tracks and rolled and rolled and kept rolling. The train passed. I stayed flat on my back until the earth made noise again, then sat straight up and looked across the tracks at my mother. She had Eric pinned to the ground. She was watching the train head west. I lay back down, searched the sky, waited for the sun to disintegrate.

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