The Vault: Safe House

Safe House” in CIA speak means refuge for defectors “coming in from the cold.” Spies, criminals, “hostiles” and people in danger of being exposed surrender inside to their new Normal, a world so quietly foreign.

They begin again, anonymous. They seal the door and become Anyone, anyone but who they really are. There is great relief in reinvention.

I too, wish to defect, come in from the cold. But in my Safe House tenderness seeps in and shows me my son. There is a knock at my door, soft at first, an almost inaudible tap, tap, tap. I’m not ready. But the door cracks open and darkness, like a pressure lifts.

In blow butterflies. They fill the white spaces and skim my shoulders and cheeks, gentle as a kiss. They don’t live very long—less than a month (and only then if no one brushes up against their wings) but they have the most beautiful life, full of bright colors and flight. They are at once connected and detached from their surroundings, they flutter into darkness with such delicate grace, leaving behind an imprint.

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