Exploring the art of prose


Author: MJ Tuttle

Author’s Note

I’ve always been interested in temporary realities, situations that reduce the world down to a building, or a room, or the space between two people: their behaviors, moods, silences, their footsteps. In this piece, I wanted “I” and “you” and the Fort Lauderdale Airport to feel like all that exists. As if that corridor was tumbling out in space, and the rest never mattered anyway.

Like the narrator, I did stay overnight once at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. Late that night as I wandered the halls my mind dissolved into a soup of experience. The blinking blue, red, and green lights on the tarmac became stars, planets, and moons. The only other person who would’ve had the opportunity to participate in this celestial revisioning of the Fort Lauderdale Airport was a man in fatigues whom I never actually met. I felt so tender toward him and wanted to explore why.

He was not watching porn. That was me. I do this habitually on shared Wi-Fi, just to see if I can. It makes me feel like a stranger to myself. And isn’t everyone a stranger in the airport? In transit there’s a shedding of identity. Isn’t there? You are neither origin nor destination. In between nodes of comfort, amidst the unfamiliar, I often find myself with a more primal attunement to my senses. I exist as a question.

Each airport has some kind of regional flare. In Fort Lauderdale, it was all the fish. But it wasn’t only about the fish. It was about catching the fish. The culture of the place, the airport says, is the catching. I cannot imagine what a fish has seen, or what secrets it holds. The fish felt like another important wanderer within this story’s world.

The narrator and the man watching porn share a secret that I think a lot of loner transient types share. You can find what I’m talking about right now in the out-to-sea eyes across a countertop at any twenty-four-hour diner. Or in the eyes of a fish.

While the narrator and the man watching porn are both stuck in a late-stage capitalist purgatory, they are also vividly awake. They are two swinging lanterns searching out in the dark. For something real.


MJ TUTTLE is a trans writer and filmmaker originally from North Carolina. Feature films she has written and directed have screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival, Rooftop Films, International Film Festival of India, and all over the world. She is an MFA candidate at Bennington College and an adjunct faculty member at The New School and Adelphi University. She was a finalist for the 2023 Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest and lives in New Mexico and New York.