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The Perfect Family Portrait

My dad repaints the decking every few years. You can see splotches of more vibrant paint every few steps. These splotches are the touchups necessary in between.

Tonight he calls me out to the red decking. We stand as close to the railing as possible and look up. The air is fresh. The rain drowned all of our dirt, leaving only purity.

“Look at those stars. We don’t see stars like these here.”


“There’s Orion’s Belt. You see the sword and his arm? And we never see those ones over there.”

I look up to where he is pointing. He stands a foot taller than me and so it seems as though his fingers will soon be burned from being to close to the heat of the stars. There are innocent white cumulous clouds drifting at a speed that doesn’t seem possible for the lazy cotton balls we think of them as. Maybe they have more of a purpose than we believe. I haven’t decided whether I believe in destiny or fate. Sometimes its to obvious to deny though.

“We should go to Monument Valley. The sunsets and sunrises and the stars.”

He only responds with his knowledge of Western movies shot there.

“John Ford and John Wayne were the two.” He said.

“Yeah. Stagecoach.”

We had spent the evening leaving good impressions on my mom’s colleagues. The annual work Christmas party had filled the house with tequila and lots of hard laughter. And now at midnight the three of us were alone again. My mom clearing the kitchen counters of chocolate cake and half finished beers, while we stood outside craning our necks to watch the cloud with a purpose float in front of Orion and his sword and his belt. There was a strange feeling of content in both of us. This rarely happened. Both completely ok with the other’s place and purpose. We were born restless, but, right then, we couldn’t remember the word’s definition.

“Andrea, come out here to look at these.”

And then it was the three of us craning our necks looking at the stars that were impressive for San Pedro. All of us dressed better than an average day. If only my sister were out there craning as well. The perfect family portrait.

We filed inside.

I left to drive back to my temporary home as they got ready for bed.


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