FORTY-FIVE, 2.0

There was a delay, but as long as safety was guaranteed, Marnie didn’t mind. She’d come all this way, so she figured, why stop now? She looked down at the drinks she was holding, licking her lips in anticipation.

Beside her, Frank held their sign in the air, waggling first his right arm, then his left, as he grew more tired. “How much longer?”

She replied, “Don’t complain.”

“Six hours, Marnie. You promised we wouldn’t spend all day here, and I’d get to see the game. It’s the sixth inning already!”

She glared at him. “How  would you know what inning it is?”

“I’ve been checking my phone, okay? I still have a right to have my phone and look at it whenever I feel like it.”

“Look at your phone, don’t look at your phone, see what I care. Just keep holding up that sign while you do it.”

“Why is this so important to you?”

“Now? You wait until now to ask me that? Two hours in the car, an hour in line, holding these drinks for hours unable to drink them just yet, and you wait until now to ask me that? Did you even read it?”

Frank looked up at the sign he was holding, waggling his left arm at the same moment. “I don’t understand it.”

“What’s not to understand? ‘Keeping US Safe.’ How much clearer should I make it?”

Frank rolled his eyes. “I know what the sign SAYS, Marnie, I just don’t understand it. What are we being kept safe from?”

Marnie shook her head, glancing around to make sure no one else in the crowd could hear them. “It’s not what he can keep us safe FROM. It’s that he’ll keep us safe in general.”

“But safe from what? In what sense, I mean, are you saying ‘safe'”?

“Frank, just hold the sign up. It’ll be over soon.” They both looked up at the stage, which was still empty.  The crowd around them was still screaming, and occasionally a rhythmic clapping would start, crescendo, then everyone would settle down into air of anticipation.

“Something wrong, you think?” Frank looked over at Marnie, and she avoided his gaze.

“Nothing is wrong, Frank, quit whining.”

Frank tried to hand her the sign. “Just hold the damn thing yourself, I’ve got to pee.”

He walked away before she could reply, so Marnie held the sign high, screaming along with the crowd.

It was past midnight by the time the candidate came and went, and Frank had still not returned from the bathroom.

Marnie was safe, though, as she and the rest of the crowd quietly lay still next to empty cups of the tasty drinks they’d been handed at the door.

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