“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 around 80.
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 throat.
“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 happy.
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