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South of Denial

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Brochures. Polished shoes. Castor wheels attached to suitcases attached to travelers rushing across the airport's scuffed and speckled floor. The six inches immediately above the floor wasn't all you saw at the time, but now it seems like all that matters, the rest drawn off like siphoned gas.

Your hands, deep in your pockets, crumpling a ticket on the left, and loose bills on the right, are shaking. But they weren't at the time he wants to hear about.

Two small children, small enough to see the tops of their heads as they nearly bowl you over, rushing to meet their father as he exits a bloated jumbo jet. His tie is wrinkled beyond hope.

The world silently goes white.

* * *

"Do you think I want to know about him?" asks the man. "Genuinely, truthfully, do you think he's what I care about?" He waits a moment, before snapping his fingers twice in front of your face. "Answer me."

You carefully shelve the memory of your coworker's family reuniting, before answering.

"N-N-No," you stutter out like a faulty motorbike, beyond frustrated at the degradation of your speech. His fault, you remind yourself. He did this to you.

He sighs as if greatly inconvenienced. "So you were being willfully disobedient, again."

Before you can begin to deny it, the probe begins to whine.