Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano Read Online (FREE)
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“Since death is certain, but the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?”
June 12, 2013
Newark Airport is shiny from a recent renovation. There are potted plants at each joint of the security line, to keep passengers from realizing how long they’ll have to wait. People prop themselves against walls or sit on suitcases. They all woke up before dawn; they exhale loudly, sputtering with exhaustion.
When the Adler family reaches the front of the line, they load their computers and shoes into trays. Bruce Adler removes his belt, rolls it up, and slots it neatly beside his brown loafers in a gray plastic bin. His sons are messier, throwing sneakers on top of laptops and wallets. Laces hang over the side of their shared tray, and Bruce can’t stop himself from tucking the loose strands inside.
The large rectangular sign beside them reads: All wallets, keys, phones, jewelry, electronic devices, computers, tablets, metal objects, shoes, belts, and food must go into the security bins. All drink and contraband must be thrown away.
Bruce and Jane Adler flank their twelve-year-old son, Eddie, as they approach the screening machine. Their fifteen-year-old son, Jordan, hangs back until his family has gone through.
Jordan says to the officer manning the machine: “I want to opt out.”
The officer gives him a look. “What’d you say?”
The boy shoves his hands in his pockets and says, “I want to opt out of going through the machine.”
The officer yells, apparently to the room at large: “We’ve got a male O-P-T!”
“Jordan,” his father says, from the far side of the tunnel. “What are you doing?”
The boy shrugs. “This is a full-body backscatter, Dad. It’s the most dangerous and least effective screening machine on the market. I’ve read about it and I’m not going through it.”
Bruce, who is ten yards away and knows he won’t be allowed to go back through the scanner to join his son, shuts his mouth. He doesn’t want Jordan to say another word.
“Step to the side, kid,” the officer says. “You’re holding up traffic.”
After the boy has complied, the officer says, “Let me tell you, it’s a whole lot easier and more pleasant to go through this machine than to have that guy over there pat you down. Those pat-downs are thorough, if you know what I mean.”
The boy pushes hair off his forehead. He’s grown six inches in the last year and is whippet thin. Like his mother and brother, he has curly hair that grows so quickly he can’t keep it in check. His father’s hair is short and white. The white arrived when Bruce was twenty-seven, the same year Jordan was born. Bruce likes to point at his head and say to his son, Look what you did to me. The boy is aware that his father is staring intently at him now, as if trying to deliver good sense through the air.