This was no mother-and-daughter pact. The philosophy professor questioned the auditorium: why only a few should conquer the exam? In the first row, I smothered elation, not divulging how I scribbled his utterances in toto, chanted tenets in low murmurs in library carrels, visualized the flow of his lecture, head on my pillow. You were studying from a checked-out GED manual. We sat at your kitchen table, your essay in front of me, pen in hand. This! I said. You used the semicolon properly. Not easy! You laughed, a flicker of hope kindling your step to put on more coffee. On test day, you exited the adult learning center, clawing at your purse for a cigarette, your dismissive glance at the cheap bouquet I held blooming shame.
Thea Swanson has lived a number of lives, the last couple taking place in the state of Washington. She holds an MFA in Writing from Pacific University in Oregon and is the founder and editor of Club Plum Literary Journal. Her flash-fiction collection, Mars, was published by Ravenna Press in 2017. Thea's work can be found in many journals including Fiction Southeast, Mid-American Review and Chiron Review. Thea writes daily while riding the bus and ferry. Find her writing at theaswanson.com.