Another Workday

by | Jun 23, 2023 | Writing the Weather

She sat on the concrete bench just down the street from the store, nibbling on the egg salad sandwich she’d bought yesterday from the vendor. A drop of sweat slowly made its way down between her breasts, where it veered off to roll down the side of her bump. Still air encased her in a limbo of intention. She felt she should move. These days, standing in the store made her ankles swell so that little golf balls of flesh protruded on the sides. Maybe walking would get her circulation going. As she hoisted herself off the bench with one hand, she cupped her rounded belly with the other. She spotted the drugstore on the other side of the street and thought to check out the baby aisle in case she had missed something new and cute the day before. Few people were out today in this heat, but now foot traffic seemed to pick up as if the Victorian clock on the bank had struck noon. Their voices sounded prickly to her, fingernails that jabbed at her. Pain swelled behind her sinuses and forehead. A man jostled her as he tried to move around her in his haste. She reached behind to pull her sticky dress from her back, then drifted back toward work, clutching her bump from underneath. In front of her, the glass display window of the store was gone, shattered inward, shards sprinkled over the mannequins in their floral dresses. She sensed something underfoot and heard crunching. At her feet, broken glass littered the sidewalk. She looked up and saw sheer drapes billowing out of open windows. What had been windowpanes were now glass pebbles under her feet. To enter the store, she stepped over a long rigid plastic shard imprinted with an H. When she saw the new girl on the ground, she sank to her knees and stared. She stared long enough that images began to appear in the fog of her mind, and she had to endure it all over again. Not five minutes before, in the oppressive calm, suddenly, the sky had swirled above her, turned sour, chartreuse. What a nasty color. She thought how it would clash with the bright primary blue, red, and yellow of the nursery she was building at home, one little purchase at a time. A vicious siren cut through the thick air, startling her, and then a gray wind surprised her with its entrance, whipping her dress into a frenzy around her thighs. The armory had continued to send a piercing signal throughout downtown, blanketing the town in pinpricks. The sweat dried on her skin, and she felt a cool hand, noting it was her own. Now the only sound was of people exclaiming and wailing, but from a distance so far away, she might as well have been encased in amniotic fluid, dreaming of bears with red shorts and blue suspenders.

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