Eighth

Photo by Vadim L

Photo by Vadim L

It was after the conference in San Francisco that they went to Disneyland together, taking separate flights down to Los Angeles on that Sunday afternoon so as not to raise suspicion. She arrived first, hanging at the In-N-Out on Sunset, noshing on one Animal Style burger after another, no longer paying attention to the waistline she’d worried might embarrass her on the dais. Because the dais was done, man. The dais was done.

He picked her up in his rental—a Beemer; they were splurging—and they drove out to Anaheim. She hadn’t been to a Disney resort since college, and had never been to this one, the one in California. So, he took the lead. They visited the newer of the resort’s two parks first, and on the first ride—something called the Maliboomer—they were shot into the air from the bottom of a tower to its top. She shouted the whole way, losing herself in the adrenaline of being done with work, done with her family, done with everything in the world.

She screamed on the roller coaster, too. They rode that twice.

But it was while riding a relatively quiet ride, something that simulated a hang glider, that she had the most profound experience of the trip.

He was holding her hand as they soared over river rafters and kayakers, golfers and wild horses. And then, suddenly, they were flying over an orange grove. She didn’t believe her nose at first, but she could actually smell the oranges. The trick was beyond her; she didn’t get how they were doing it. But he seemed to sense her mind being blown, so he squeezed her hand harder.

That, of course, made her close her eyes. Because, at that moment, the least real thing was what she was seeing. The film playing out on the enormous screen in front of them, with its cuts and whatnot, was artifice. But the feel of his hand and of the gentle breeze, the sound of fruit and leaves rustling in the wind, and the smell of the oranges—that sweet, sweet smell—that was all real. Everything was as real as she wanted it to be.

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