“A.” worked at a desk on the ground floor with a stack of
paper 1040’s to his right. He wore a
business suit and tie. I took him to be
I had gotten his name from my mother, as in years past, he
and my stepfather worked side by side offering free tax preparation assistance
at the public library.
I had been hiding from my tax returns this year. Fortunately, during the days when I made
money, I had the good sense not to spend all of it on vacations and designer
handbags and put some away.
Yet, more recent times called for a different kind of sensibility.
I put those handbags up on eBay. I sold off some of the money that Wall Street
had held for me for the past decade. And
while I “sold high” to get the most bang for my buck, selling high meant I owed
“the man” in on the action.
I didn’t want to deal with the I.O.U. to Uncle Sam, thus I
had hidden from him completely, and I didn’t want to pay my accountant his arm
and leg fee as one of the “fortunate ones” to receive his Ivy League advice.
So, there I sat, across from A., at the library, with my W2’s,
1099’s, expense receipts and the large pile of Barter Exchange forms.
There were the technology stocks that held up…
…oil stocks, home improvement stores, soft drinks…
…the blue chip stocks for fast food chains where I would
never eat, but whose dividends fed my children this year.
He wrote quickly on the Schedule D, while punching an adding
machine that sat on top of the desk.
“You’re fine,” he said, as he placed a piece of paper in
front of me and pointed to a number.
“Here’s what your refund will be.”
I eyed the number and suddenly felt light. The money I would get back was enough to
replace half of what I had cashed in.
“Thank you,” I offer, getting up from the desk.
“I miss your father.”
“I miss him too,” I respond, feeling the cry well up in my
“He was a good man.
He helped a lot of people do their taxes. We fought though. Politics. Always politics. He was such a liberal.”
“I know,” I say. I smile and nod my head.
“You’re lovely. Like
your stepdad. Good luck to you.”
I walk out of the library, tears on my cheeks, clutching my
tax return under my arm, thinking about how I don’t miss those vacations or
stocks or designer handbags half as much as I miss my stepdad, thinking about
how fast life really goes, and thinking about when it’s my turn to die, I’m
hoping to have things on my mind other than taxes and the trifles that take up
too much space in my mind, and to end this life used up, spent, at peace, and totally
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