I cross my arms and wait. Five minutes. Ten. Before we know it, we’re both crying. Me because I don’t want her here, to take the good out of the equation. Her because she is delusional and wants something from me that she had lost for herself a long, long time ago.
Wilma knew next to nothing about fashion or business, first of all. But she stayed because she had an obligation. Not because she would be betraying her grandmother if she didn’t. The store was a shell of her grandmother’s existence. To close it would be removing her from her self-designed history book.
Hassan unconsciously reached for the hem of his uniform, which was blue and had yellow smiley faces plastered all over it. It was painful to look at, more so to have it on. He tugged at it desperately. Apparently, getting to wear the right size was not the kind of privilege an average employee got to have.
Sadie looked up. There wasn’t much to see. The buildings towered over each other, effectively blocking the night sky. They were the exact same height and width, all of them, twelve floors and seven windows apart. Sadie lost count of them after passing a dozen or so. A light turned off on the fifth floor across the street.
you know what they say during drills.
get under the desk, it’s safe.
well, I’m the desk,
stuck in the corner as the first wave hits,
the dishes and pots hit the ground,
my legs threaten to give way but not quite,
Sandra sighed. She teared her eyes off her daughter and continued to beat the single egg that was alone in her fridge this morning. The yolk spattered off the bowl and landed on the pile of letters to her right. Every two days or so, that pile welcomed yet another letter. Today was that day.
one person, then a group
one voice, then a cacophony
one blade, then a block of knives
Her legs trembled. She closed her eyes shut. She had to do something. For Soba. For every single life about to be wasted. A glass of jar dropped to the floor somewhere in the room, breaking into pieces. She forced her eyes back open.
Stores were just starting to close one by one, the bookstore around the corner, the butcher shop in front, the hair salon. What did a hair salon have? Hair. Hair that Asher did not have. She had an idea: a terrible one, but brilliant for sure.
all I had to do
was leave the car,
but my hands froze,
and my heart beat faster and faster
until terror rose above me
like a boat facing a threatening wave
until the wave capsized the boat,
and my breath stuck in my chest