Gate 70

When the underpaid TSA agent in the royal blue button up starts to cup your thighs you stop breathing. You start to wish that the x-ray contraption saw that you, in fact, did not have a bomb in your underpants. You stare at the plane outside the gate in front of you– you want to be on it– you want to be gone. The agent with the powder free latex gloves explains to you that she has to feel in between your legs. She starts at your hips and then goes to your inner thigh. She goes to the crotch. Her fingers force themselves past the inseam. Nothing. No bomb. Can you grab your waistband for me? I don’t wanna pinch you. Your eyes break from the airbus ahead of you at gate 70 loading its passengers. You slip your thumb into the top of your black leggings. You stretch them out an inch or two for the agent. You let her in. You let her in. She notices your beady eyes– green balls that have now turned glossy. You see the others in security look at you. They can all see you. They will notice you more if you cry. Don’t cry. She looks down and feels between your pants and underwear. Nothing. No bomb. I just have to check your hands. You hold them out as she disappears. You look down. Your hands are fists. They are white. Your nails have found a home in your palm. Your knees are locked. Don’t move. She returns. She holds out her hand and you place yours on top. She wipes your palm down with a soft, blue plastic. She leaves again. Your luggage nudges the end of the conveyor belt waiting for you to claim it. The agent waves to you behind a screen, clearing you to leave. You stand. The next agent tells you that you can leave. Your throat clogs and you can feel a tear roll down your cheek. Not here. Not here. Not here. You make it to the end of the conveyor belt, put your shoes on. Don’t zip your boots. You don’t have time. You put most of your belongings in your hands. You know where you can go. You make a right out of security and then make the second right. You go to the last stall. You pull down your leggings, pull the toilet paper until you have a large ball. You begin to scrape your thighs with the rough white rolled paper. Your legs turn red. Her scent must be gone. You can still feel the gloves getting caught on the fabric. You feel him on top of you. His warm hands gripping your small, cold body over a decade ago. You retreat to your fingernails. Dig him out of you. Dig. Dig Dig. Dig. The stall next to you flushes their toilet. You wipe your cheeks until they are somewhat dry. You put your things back in your floral black backpack. You take a deep breath and unlock your stall.

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