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As the plane took off, the little boy asked his mother “is it time to cry yet?”



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  1. It wasn’t a question he was asking for himself. Lincoln enjoyed the high-altitude excitement of travel. The longer the flight the better, as there were so many opportunities to run down aisles, play with the buttons that brought movies to the screen on the headrest in front of him, and press the service button for special attention from the flight attendants. No, his question was not about his tears, but his mothers.

    Lucinda was a cryer. It didn’t take much for her tears to well up and tip over the rim of her heavily, charcoaled eyes. She was pegged as a “sensitive type” in her youth and no one was surprised to see her face weighted down by the heaviness of a frown. Lucinda was sandwiched on the second floor of a three story building that overlooked the streets of her urban neighborhood. The second floor was never far enough to insulate her from the realities of the street, so when the night’s noise crept up from the asphalt below it tended to interrupt her dreams.

    When she’d wake, Lucinda would clumsily approach her bedroom window and peek through the slit in the drapes to bare witness to the activity below. The shadows in her own room were the only things to accompany her in this lonely task. What she saw below was never to be seen during the light of day. It spoke of people in the margins, huddled in protected entryways, scurrying back and forth. Men, women, youth, and sometimes even younger without the refuge of their own homes. Lucinda felt her pulse race and the warm tears against the cool surface of her face, leaving a trail of salt.

    Dragging her slippered feet through the hallway to the kitchen in her small apartment, Lucinda turned to the twenty-four hour news with the volume on low to keep her company. Broadcasters shared reports from another part of the city where helicopters were reported to be hovering over unwieldy groups of protesters who were blocking roads and turning over garbage cans chanting “Black Lives Matter.” Lucinda wanted to escape. She was already drowning in her own struggles with loss and was desperate find an escape route to another life, somewhere far from everything familiar.

    That was the night she gathered her resources and purchased the one way tickets. Lucinda’s sense of urgency would cause her to leave everything behind as she was desperate to escape her losses. The faces of the men in her family, her husband and brothers, shot on the streets in her neighborhood, would follow her where ever she would go. Her tears would be the only thing to satisfy her grief.

    When they boarded the plan, Lucinda turned to Lincoln and said, “Soon it will be time to cry, but not just yet. No. not yet.”

  2. As the plane took off, the little boy asked his mother, “Is it time to cry yet?”
    The director said, “Cut, cut”, but in a nice way. He came over to the boy and put an arm across his shoulders. The man seemed like he enjoyed being with little boys. He kneeled down and talked quietly to him so no one else could hear. Sam strained around the airplane seat to get a better look at what the actors were doing past the cameras and busy people who kept getting in the way and the blue paper outside the airplane windows that looked like the sky but was actually too blue. Watching the director makes him feel a good feeling. Just like his stomach when he drinks hot chocolate from paper packets mixed with milk at grandma’s in min-ne-ap-o-lis.
    Sam’s mother looked over her shoulder to make sure he wasn’t in the way of anything. He caught her glance and sunk back into his chair. He hated having to sit through these shoots and now this one he couldn’t even see any of the action. Sometimes stunt men rode motorcycles so fast by him or pretty girls in nice dresses kept him company while his mother was busy working. She was a gaffer, which had to do with lights and wires and yelling things to men she worked with. This was not the same kind of gaffer as the kind dad used to drag the hal-i-but over the railing at Municipal Pier. One time when they were fishing on a boat dad caught a gi-nor-mous tuna. He looked so strong standing with that fish. The men patted him on the back and took his picture. Then dad came and gave Sam the biggest hug he ever got. Dad was so wet with sweat but Sam could feel all his muscles and the goose bumps that came when dad picked him up. Grandma says these days are called red-letter-days. Dad never travels with them to Grandma’s but Grandma told Sam not to worry about it because his parents love each other so much.
    “SAM!” his mother is yelling at him now. “Sam!” she is saying in a mean tone. He has climbed into the overhead compartment to get the best view of the director and the little boy actor with his pretend mother. The boy is crying but Sam knows they are not real tears. People who are actors know how to pretend cry. This is something Sam wants to learn because sometimes when he feels sad crying makes him feel a little better. But when he is sad he cannot pretend cry. Besides, dad always comes home and watches baseball and that makes him feel better. It is always good to have dad at home. Sometimes dad even lets him tell a short story he has made up.
    Mom lifts him down just like the polite stewardesses do when they help him get his rolling suitcase when the airplane lands in Min-ne-ap-o-lis going to Grandma’s. Mom kisses him on the cheek and asks him so nicely to sit for just one more hour because they are almost done. She gives him a tooth-cleaning piece of gum to chew because he is not allowed to eat real candy except when they are in the city all together.
    The director tells everyone to “be-quiet-on-the-set” and mom looks right at him. He holds his hand up with a thumps up and mom smiles at him and makes him feel good.
    The little boy under the lights asks his pretend mother, “Is it time to cry yet?” She tells him, “Yes”. He cries big pretend tears. The director tells him, “Cut” and gives him a big hug. Everyone in the airplane claps for him. Sam claps for him too.

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