Ruth Foley


Tonight, after dinner with my brother at a famous restaurant, after crossing the casino floor, after beginning to learn to read the markings big as highway signs that will lead me to my room, after the plane ride after the phone call saying, Come now, I will sink into the biggest bathtub I have ever seen in person. Because this is Las Vegas, there will be a television on the wall beside the double sinks, and I will put on a sitcom but find myself unable to bear the sound and unwilling to leave the tub, dripping, to turn it off, unwilling, also, to face the certain silence to follow. Because this is Las Vegas, I will have taken a shuttle from the airport, tucked in next to a pilot on vacation, shifting his carry-on to his lap, chatting amiably about bachelor parties and the shopping his wife did the last time they were here—she's somewhere else tonight with their children, Good for her, I will have thought but not said. I also will not have said, when asked—because this is, after all, Las Vegas—why I am here. When you're being wheeled beneath the naked sun, between one hotel with the New York skyline for a façade and one with giant hieroglyphs and a sphinx, when you're sitting next to a British Airways pilot who only wants to know your first name and knows you will probably lie when he asks where you're from, when you fear you will never stop howling once you allow yourself to start, you do not say I'm here to meet my brother so we can help our cousin die, and yes, I do know what a terrible place Las Vegas is for this kind of convergence, even though I have not yet seen the desperate-smelling nicotine casino or the bathtub or the groups of girls-night-outs or last-night-of-freedom-nudge-nudge bachelor parties, all of them just as heavily laden with the insistence of fun as this lovely pilot who will have helped me with my bags and waited with me until my brother arrived at the front desk to meet me because, he will have said, his wife would want him to. And I will have believed him. But because this is Las Vegas, I will have told him it's a family reunion and then will come my brother and dinner and the casino and the bathtub where I will not be able to turn off the television but will instead sink deliberately under the water, my eyes open to the deluxe ceiling fixtures, and will stay as long as my breath holds, and I will begin again to list the things I do not know.

Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her work appears in numerous web an print journals, including Antiphon, The Bellingham Review, The Louisville Review, Redheaded Stepchild, and Stirring. Her chapbook Dear Turquoise is available from Dancing Girl Press. She serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review.

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