Creative Nonfiction: For a Fangirl on His Fifty-Third Birthday by Kelsi Lindus

They say a butterfly could flutter its wings and on the other side of the planet we’d learn to treat each other kindly or something, I don’t know but a film came out with Ashton Kutcher when I was in your class and I watched it at some boy’s older sister’s house and lost my favorite ring in her couch and never got it back, the one with tiny stars punched into steel. Taylor Swift and I were always the same age. I saw her television debut from a treadmill in that downstairs room at the country club the year your wife wanted me to join the team and so I did even though I was so slow and the race results remain online a lifetime later. She was the prettiest woman I’d ever seen. Your wife, I mean. Remember how Taylor was still a child then, hating men—the funny one who left her longing and the weak one who cheated and the self-centered one with the stupid truck? She wasn’t afraid to name them. Remember how we made-out to her music on your floor last summer like the teenagers that we weren’t, not even close? Now your daughter posts a video for your birthday taken before you became the way you are now or maybe always were and I pause it to see your stupid smile on my screen at a Taylor Swift concert like nothing even happened because nothing has happened yet, no fine mesh net, no convergence of cool and warm air somewhere—only choices you can still make, deceptions to decide against or never entertain. Because in that moment, perhaps only that moment—crowd swaying, light slanted low, wristband aglow in a phone’s flash—it seems a few particles might have shifted slightly where I slept across the country and unfurled a different world, one where I am still just your student saying hey from far away and you are just a father, just a fangirl, pulling from memory every perfect, vindictive word. It wouldn’t have taken much.

Kelsi Lindus (she/her) is a writer and filmmaker living in the Puget Sound. Her work has appeared in, or is forthcoming from, X-R-A-Y, Autofocus, Lost Balloon, Rejection Letters, Roi Fainéant, and elsewhere. She can be found online @kelsijayne or

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