Saturday, January 13, 2018

Once Upon a Storm

Once Upon a Storm

Dollar weed lagoon, my pond of the golden fish--a windblown wrapper carp--
rises between the hoofbeats of a rainstorm, dust and water crushed to dusky sky
just beneath where the fence--in drier days--has been shorn into a ragged opening
for the exhausted grass.

Now diamonds grow from this dark water, from puddle beds of clay and green.
Wishes granted by fish mouth, close to the ground, gleam on the skin of the sky as it dries.
All the streets are cleaner now; the greens are thicker, the chill is sunnier now
the wishes have soaked into the ground.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Wonder Stories

Today, I am thinking about things that do damage and things that do not. About stories that are more like mycelium roots, about what kinds of relationships we have, and about the window that is still open in this room, while others throughout the house have been shut.

I was reading Jen Campbell's "The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night" when I put the book down for a moment and noticed that it's published by Two Roads press and then, whether they intended this or not, I was thinking about the Frost poem and about my own walk in the arboretum this afternoon, in the only section of the woods that are open after the hurricane. I started thinking about my spouse's comment that I needed to be mindful of little six- and seven-year-olds as I enumerated the flaws I'd found with the latest Star Wars movie and how I should be aware that this was their first experience of the movie on the big screen. That I shouldn't take a chance on ruining their childhood experience of a movie that both of us had loved as children. Even if it isn't the same movie. Even if we don't know any six- or seven-year-olds.

Am I still that kid in the theater? The one who dreamed about Luke Skywalker showing up and walking in person at the very front of the movie theater, directly in front of the screen, just as stunned by his movie as we were? Is that person the one who was disappointed by the latest movie? The one who is enchanted by "The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night"? Is that person still kept tenuously inside me, like an astronaut in space, tangled up in the roots of all the wonder stories that I've read or seen?

It feels as if more than the breeze is seeping through the window, as if evening itself wanted to pour into the room and even out the light and dark, bleed the screen a little dimmer, so that I can pay attention to a distant neighbor's hammering, the beat of my own heart as I sit cross-legged in this chair, the burble of barks that trace arrivals and awarenesses among the houses and yards. That breeze promises a little extra buoyancy to the person tangled in those roots, hints at stories that are just about to bud open in the night.

I certainly don't want to damage the growth of any stray senses of wonder around me. As much I resent his words--sometimes bad stories have to be untangled verbally--, I'll have to hang them in the same place as those other writer 'rules' of surreal applicability, in the oil and water mixtures of 'should' and 'art' that become stories.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Buried Under a Bookslide

We don't usually get much seriously cold weather here. In keeping with conventions of the age, however, the upcoming cold snap is being covered as if we were about to suffer a blizzard. As I'm familiar with during hurricane season, weather prep coverage tends to send me into an organizational frenzy.

Today, it was documenting a TBR pile that might actually, if left to itself, collapse into the core of a library. Because linguistic physics.

I'm actually horrified by the books I've been squirreling away--I've been reading plenty, but I've been dealing with...stress? making an enormous pile of books bought at library sales and discount stores and Just Not Reading Them. Not to mention the occasional Christmas book request that returns a text that seemed like a good idea but just didn't cut through the static in my head.

2018 is going to be the year of the Everest of TBRs. I'm probably going to conk out in base camp, but I'm going to commit to actually reading and officially DNF'ing books that aren't for me rather than shuffling them further back on the shelf. Also, no more impulse buys at Half Price.

Part of the shock of the TBR is the realization that I really don't want to read most of these books. That I managed to acquire them without any real interest in them. That's fine--there are great discoveries to be made in the random intersection of reader and book. However, I don't think there was any hope of discovery behind them, just a kind of "yeah, I'm a reader, right? and this is a book." Generic, joyless consumption.

Despite that, January's reading list should be interesting. Here is the list and some of the background about why I want to read each book:
  1. The January Dancer -- Whenever I dip into this, the writing intrigues me and the story promises a good mystery but I haven't slowed down to follow it, yet.
  2. The Time of the Transference -- This was a gift from my dad and is the kind of adventure story that first appealed to me in fantasy. Interesting magic system.
  3. Jhereg -- I saw the author at a convention years ago and realized that the covers that had been putting me off shouldn't have. This has been in the stack ever since (guilt, guilt, guilt).
  4. The Lesser Kindred -- The blurb sounded interesting.
  5. Make Way for Dragons -- Um...yeah. Cover nostalgia buy.
  6. Rosalind Franklin - This was a gift (guilt, guilt, guilt) and I wanted to read about Rosalind Franklin.
  7. Moonwise -- I LOVE the writing in this book. So I keep swooning and shoving it back on the shelf because I'll only get the one time to discover the story.
  8. Parzival -- Isn't January the perfect time for a cozy read about the search for the Holy Grail? Yes, yes it is.
  9. The Rediscovery of Meaning -- January is also the perfect time for contemplation.
  10. Transformations -- Because why have I never read Anne Sexton?
  11. The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night -- Because it's beautiful and it's on my desk for continuous inspiration.
  12. The Little Book of Hidden People -- This was a gift from my brother and, again, it was put on the stack for a time when it could be savored. Freeze-mergency, anyone? (it is not an emergency because it might be below freezing for a few days, except, well, coastal Texas)
  13. The Silver Bough -- Cover buy. Will the story live up to the lovely cover? We'll see.
  14. Little, Big -- I should love this. I don't. But I will finish it. Perhaps a transformation along the way?
  15. The Practice of Writing --  This is the shortest writing book in the stack but, again, it seemed like it might be a good January companion.
Just a day to go until January starts. Think I'll indulge in another story from The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night and look forward to January reading.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Janus and the Coming Freeze

It is that middle stretch, the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, the lame duck period of 2017, last-minute week of goal setting or goal rushing-to-completion, week of laundry and cleaning preparatory to the new year (if you're into that), week of staring at the sky and glancing backwards and forwards.

For me, it began with a scramble and then an obsession with mini Christmas scrapbooks, as I realized that I'd begun several and just not finished them. These aren't massive projects, just 4x6 brag books stuffed with pictures and a minimum of text, but it takes time to arrange and print and cut the pages to size and explain why all of a sudden our ink surplus has turned into a severe shortage. Also, memory albums are sticky--you look at one picture, then you've looked at eighty, then you're sinking into those snows of yesteryear, the ones that are supposedly vanished but are piling up over you nonetheless. It takes time to dig out of the past.

That project was kicked off in anticipation of a visit by our in-laws that, thanks to a random hard freeze over the New Year's holiday, won't be happening right now. So I've had the chance to dive into the other memory books that I've started and not completed, all the birthday albums, Diva Night reminiscences, The Year The Yard Was All Morning Glories, 4th of July celebrations followed by bubbles and fireworks...wherever the images happen to accumulate. A project that was a single book catching up with photos that I didn't want to lose has become a potential year-long nostalgia fest. If I actually finish these, there will be pics of The Year That Was All Memory Books.

Perhaps you have projects that get out of hand, too.

Which brings me to the other projects. The writing ones that also found themselves well begun but abandoned. Here is the backward glance:  the 2016 election was a sharp shock to me. But it wasn't the first. There have been the difficulty of finding a job and assorted concerns that finally coalesced into a single decision:  I'm not writing for anyone else. I've been a member of writing groups for years and I used to be better about submissions. Now, though, I realize that I want to make art that speaks to the people closest to me--to my family, to a few friends--and the memory books speak to that, as does the few writing projects that I'm keeping for this year. Here is the glance forward:  2018 is the year that I want to be able to return gifts I received with interest, novellas for reaching out, flash collections for the peace that I received from the parks before Harvey washed them away.

This year, I want to work through from the beginning to the end and I want to be able to reach this in-between, lame duck week of 2018 with memories of connection rather than endless, mouse-wheel project anxiety. I am thankful, grateful, every day for the people who gave my writing their time and attention and it may be that this is a slow turn back toward a more familiar track. For now, I am thinking about blankets and hot cocoa and a hard freeze that breaks one year from another. About looking forward and glancing back. And about whether or not any of this can be captured in a photo, embellished with stickers, and placed in a memory book for 2018.

Good wishes and tamable projects,

Thursday, November 30, 2017


(The following is a poem inspired by the picture that follows, which was provided as part of our weekly WordCrafters meeting and may inspire a further development of what happens. Next. Maybe. Perhaps. *sneaks off to make notes for a new draft*)
Me—half of me, or a twin, or that last shocked reflection—

I’m still in the bedroom, still tugging the chenille with my toes

Or…the changeling? The one who hit the glass with her fist.

I pull my punches, I know what mirrors cost.

She hit with all our strength but what she broke was us.

We shattered apart like glass paper dolls.

Who really cares for more than one of a set?


Thorns scratch, grass itches, legs brush my forearms.

At least I’m dressed, not naked—pillow sham shirt,

Billowed curtain skirt—she ripped and wove, sheared and stitched

Whatever I left or was part of my room.

My room!

My house!

My parents!

Who don’t dance, don’t fly, don’t sting—don’t bite.

Whose poison my body tolerates.

Whose dead grass scores my brand-new skin.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Whiskey and Thunder (A Companion Piece for Late Night Pie)

Tell me a story—this story—in a sigh, a slump against my knee, a velvet rise and fall of breath that resolves into a low growl and a long stare into an empty night. Wake up and race me into the night on dream-kicked paws.

I would have been happy to let the damp yard soak all the way up my jeans. Years of counting days to vacation pools have made any blue water magic—whether it’s a puddle beneath a suddenly stormless sky or a rectangle of water out the back window of a motel. I have a left-over belief that water preserves the dead perfectly as they float, faces upward, into eternity. Now, all the fur I hadn’t been able to banish via the washing machine could wick memories and rain into the dark denim so that they remained part of the jeans, part of the household, a steady heartbeat and clear-eyed stroke pulling us forward rather than backwards.

Floating in a pool and staring into the summer sky was almost the obverse of looming over the blue puddles around the yard. While I stared, Brandon slid past me like a shadow. A bark jerked my attention to the fence. A small black butt was scooting backward, tail rotating, from one of the larger holes rotted along the bottom of the wood. I yelled and he glanced away and then ran toward me, squishing through the grass. He was the only dog to venture out, the only one to wade into the puddles, the others having been trained to dislike the rain years ago, under a different roof. I wasn’t yet used to the smallness of the French bulldog, nor the way he could slip into the shadows.

At first, I’d wished some of the old white fur or even the pale brown fur of the other dogs would stick to his sleek coat. After the storms, however, I was just glad that short hair was easy to hose down. Brandon sloshed by my ankles, staring back at the two pairs of dog paws waiting just inside the back door. I could hear the tick of their nails as they watched to see which of us sank further into the backyard.

Some years are dry, like the shock that comes at the first sign of bad news—how bad? How much do I have to hear? That year was the gasp and the sob that follows after—a year full of water. We were finally past the worst of the last storm; the street was wet but not flooded and the yard was streaming with the last of a cold rain that had followed the second cold front almost to the Texas coast, far enough south to bring us the remnants of a gently-used but still identifiable autumn and push the edges of the last great hurricane of the year further up the coast.

The ground squelched on its own and I glanced to my left when I heard the gate creak open, the latch having slipped over its own metal shoulder. The neighborhood seemed to groan along the narrow yard between house and gate. Wind shoved the wood against the water and damp grass. I ordered Brandon into the house as I hurried to pull the gate back against the fence. He flopped down, watching me as he rolled his bulldog body against the leg of a plant stand. A fat, cold breeze pushed against me and the thin wood.

The creaking felt like part of my movement. Sway and pop, like an old structure in the wind. The gusts pressed mist into the folds of my sweater and strung it along my hair. A low rumble, a growl or a plane engine, shimmered past. I looked back at the warm light and saw Brandon creep between the stiff forelegs still guarding the back door. A low woofle signaled the two older dogs to duck inside. They whined as I rounded the corner.

I’d chased loose dogs down the street before, so I heaved against the gate and latch, yanking the handle to verify it caught and shaking at the possibility of sad signs posted on streetlights and stop signs. This narrow strip of backyard was full of mist and smelled, or so I imagined, like salt. I had all of us back in before I let myself breathe.

Damp cold made me think of blankets and turning on all the lights, something I didn’t like to do in the evenings when it was just me and the dogs, before my husband came home. The houses are too close together. Usually, we sat in the dimness, me with a book blazing from a screen and the dogs piled up around me, drifting toward the front door and waiting.

The creaking followed me inside. When the backdoor shuddered, I decided that a sip of whiskey would settle me back into a book. An artificial storm, an imaginary fording of the floodwaters would wash away the news, help me let go the urge to start packing Only Necessary Things. Maybe I could turn off at least one of the kitchen lights.

I opened the pantry and took the bottle off the top shelf. Since it was whiskey, I was thinking about my dad, a red spoonful of sugar, a cough that wouldn’t go away, and a night when I was restless and wandering, the first night I was given to understand artificial peace.

Our pantry’s just a tiny closet. A blaze of light from an odd corner of the kitchen and then blindness, until my pupils soaked up the darkness, and I could see the dogs curled on the couches in the living room. They seemed even cozier in the mix of light and shadow that came from the streetlamps and lights of other houses. Turning out the lights was a good idea.

Especially since I could now see the flicker in the window by the back door. It’d been a month since the last time we lost power, but the small twist and bob of light felt more normal than the pantry bulb.

How long have I lived with our small backyard packed tightly against our neighbor’s yards, fences slotted in the easements, fake lock preventing even legitimate access from the neighbors? I was opening the door before I thought flashlight. And Not ours.

A ball of light flickered like a lantern by the window. Warmth brushed my calf. I held the whisky bottle by the neck. The light gleamed, picking out the dark glass of the bottle and then the label. A chill pressed past me, over the warmth from the house, into the kitchen. As it passed, a voice warned, “You’ll catch your death out here. Or at least catch the dead.”

Inside, a short shadow of a man tangled with the mist. A gust pushed rain and shadow into the kitchen. He seemed to deflate and reform, waving at a shadow that stiffened in the mists. Bells jangled softly and I jumped.

“Close the door! Don’t want to hear them dead men’s bells on that harness until I have to.” A low whicker bubbled up from the darkness just behind me. I shut the door. An old story popped and faded like a flashbulb in my head.

The haze fled as the door thumped. A soaked man stood in my kitchen, shaking out his dark hair like one of the dogs.

I twisted the bottle in my hand, thinking club. Whiskey sloshed down my wrist. His face…I looked down at the bottle glass, hoping for a reflection. It was covered with a sheen of condensation.

The dogs were restless and Brandon, the little bulldog, moaned in his sleep. None of them sat up to investigate the new voice in the kitchen. There was a single growl, but it wasn’t from the dogs on the couch.

“No harm intended, just a drink. Only blood I want is my own, warmed.” He ran a hand over his head and walked out into the living room, moving through the house like front, knocking out the pantry light and causing an interior door to pop shut. A cool gust swirled around, but I couldn’t tell if it was from the a/c or the door or the imperfectly preserved figure examining the pile of dogs snoozing on the couch. Brandon whoofled and then shoved himself closer to the Labrador mix, hiding under his thick fur. “What kind of hound is that?” the man asked, leaning over the and dripping fog on the oblivious dogs. “Looks like you got a bat on your couch.” He looked up.

Hefting the bottle against my hip, I wondered if I’d opened it earlier, if this was the first drink I’d had all day. Had I had lunch? Breakfast? Anything other than coffee as I tried to do laundry and sort through pictures and remember to be thankful for what I hadn’t lost? I stared for a second at the black lump on the couch and veered from hospitality into explanation. “He’s a dog. Brandon. He’s my dog Brandon. French bulldog.” There’s a ghost puzzling over my dog. My house, my stupid suburban house, is suffering a haunting. I should call the plumber. I took a swallow of the whiskey. The man looked back up at me. I both wished my brain would stop filtering those shadows and that it would stop whispering to me to stop looking.

“I’ll take a glass of that, ma’am, if you’d be so kind. Been looking for my own for years, but ain’t found it. My wife had a good arm.” There’s a chuckle. “I heard it hit the ground, even in the sheet, ya’know? So mad, it drove me to the elves.”

“Sure.” Mr. Bailey. The mention of elves no less than his request for whiskey punched through shock into that layer of ever-present hostess guilt. Our highball glasses were on the lowest shelf in the cabinet. Two of them thunked against the counter, and I sloshed whisky into each of them. Some trailed down the sides and onto the cabinet. I apologized for the mess as I handed him the glass.

“Smells like a good visit,” he said and took the whiskey. “I had a dog. And I know they mean good people.” The glass caught the lights from a lightning flash and the liquid seemed to shatter. “They don’t keep ‘em down in the eternal fields, even for their herds. Something turned ‘em against the idea of ‘faithful,’ I guess. Pretty sure it was us, banging on a book and telling ‘em eternity ain’t supposed to be work.” He laughed and took a sip, and I watched the whiskey curl in the smoke, billows of liquid and soot mingling. “We, my dog and I, that is, used to chase rabbits through brambles that would rip your flesh right off. No brambles where he runs, now. Hope they’re taking good care of him.”

I was leaning against the wall near the dog toys. “Brandon likes the laser pointer.” I flicked it on and found that it diffused in his shadowy feet. We both watched it for a second, and I shut it off. The whisky hit my throat and my brain switched into damage control. I coughed, but he just poured the liquid down into the flickers and darkened, as if he were topping up the lanterns that cast his shadow.

“It’s like starlight,” he said as he poured it down. A tiny flame kindled. “Better than cobbler.” Then his insides flared and he sighed. “Can’t ever get it all the way down.”

I kept the liquid flowing, and he moved to the marble coffee table, a blue flame flickering all the way up to his mouth. Around the tongues of flame, he told me that he’d been riding the river, herding the thirsty drowned cattle. The bluebell harness, the dead men’s bells, tinkled from the neck of his mount, a great grey seahorse that was soaking its way into the house even as we spoke. It had been bred down in the fields of the deathless elves, the ones who’d been condemned by the church in the same manner his wife had decided whisky was a heathen thing to put in your grave. It was that small fire, that anger, that had snapped whatever cord he’d first caught hold of, rising. Staring into the night, free and terrified, he’d run all the way to the sea looking for that bottle and found a kind of pirate eternity. A just-beyond-the-waves eternal isle. What he called elves—hard-eyed, gleaming-skinned creatures who seemed to walk in a constant ballet of current and float--offered him a mount and asked him to watch their cattle, who liked to flee ashore during floods. He looked for the bottle when the storms drove the sea and the cattle inland.

His whiskey burning voice lit up great empty caverns beneath my own skin, and I felt myself following that wisp further into the darkness. What would I chase beyond either salvation or damnation? I glanced over at the old leashes and collars hanging by the back door, a jumble of dog gear we’d been accumulating since marriage. What gates would I fear to shut?

As he spoke, his mount seeped through the wall. A stain that I wouldn’t be able to explain darkened the plaster by the door while I poured more whiskey, stared deeper into that flame. I leaned closer, wondering what whiskey topped with a burning soul would taste like.

A sharp bark at my knee was followed by a gout of water drenching my shirt and the seahorse leaning over me to nip his shoulder. It whispered to him, extinguished his reminiscences. I saw his form twist to Brandon and then to me, or the space around me, before he grabbed that weed-soaked bridle. My throat burned. “Follow the collar and not the bottle,” he murmured as a flash of lightning made a horror show and Western out of my kitchen.

Rain and hail stampeded against the house. Bailey mounted as the door blew open, spurring the horse back into the downpour. I threw the bottle into the night and slammed the door, waking all the dogs into a chorus of barks that only stopped when I stumbled back to the couch, flipping myself over the back and pulling Brandon up to my neck, letting the others pile themselves on me in the dark. A warm breath settled against my neck, opposite from where Brandon snorted.

I listened to the wind and the herd as a slow fire worked from my throat to my eyelids and my fingers curled in the fur of the dogs. I exhaled a slow flicker, lighting up all the eyes gathered around me in the night.

Story by C. Sandlin, Art by Kevin Cromwell

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Herein Thisplace

Dedicated to those who like to wander through suburban supermarkets just to see what's on their shelves and what you can conjecture about those who regularly visit them. There's nothing like a dim, well-air-conditioned grocery store to thrust you back upon the memories of childhood errands or to send a chill down your spine as items that should be absolutely, mundanely familiar just aren't in that expected aisle or spot.

It takes navigation to make it to the concrete across the warm black lot, bright lights and random cars sliding down the lanes. Can’t watch the sunset and the drowsy grackles fruiting from super-model-sized oak trees that could fit on a porch or the vestibule of one of those suburban houses just beyond the city proper. Maybe some are left deep in the byways of the city itself, old neighborhoods whose names are bywords and conjurations. But this is Houston, and the thing you should really think of is a spacecraft lying on its side or pointing a needle tip toward that blue sky.

You’d need a needle tip to pierce this air, even now, in the season of pumpkin walls making an autumnal fortification at the airlock doors that open onto a vestibule that could hold a dozen of those parking lot trees and then opens again into crammed aisles of produce and one set of double doors that releases you into the main body of the grocery store, away from vegetable flesh and leaf.

Follow the rows around, past candles and jams and pasta, along the wall of freezer cabinets, to the egress to the bakery section, the cheeses, and the deli, all the way back toward the front and another set of doors and the little jog of a hallway that gives onto the concrete stairs up to the demonstration kitchen and the upstairs balcony and the upstairs patio. Time enough for a glass of iced mocha while a family straps their baby into a grey vinyl capsule, all straps and Velcro and sturdy plastic latches. By the bright light of industrial lights and sunlight from the high row of warehouse windows (almost pre-shattered in their humid jewelry), they secure the baby tight against the dad, tiny body curled face to chest, just like the illustrations of every baby voyaging to life. Dad module shivers, shifts and begins his progress to the stairs while his wife handles the remnants of their brief visit.

Voyagers away, it’s just the concrete and the evening light, still almost afternoon-brilliant, gleaming from the concrete floors below.

Gleaming from the wafers and wine.

Lanky striders lean into the stop and start gait of wire baskets, dazed by the dark shelves barely taller than head-height, tall enough, and by the bright freezer doors. Dark jackets wander among them, as much the precise arbiters of price and space and serving as they might be the votaries of the food. And, perhaps, the only ones for whom the confessions of abundance and place and class and a numinous sense of doing the thing that must be done have been heard to the edge of sense. For what can you find at their side, who know the back of the house, the front of the house, the warehouse proper? They can parse the bottles and cans.

Fairies could bend in the light outside of those clerestory windows above, refracted angels whose hover is made of gnat and humidity, barefoot at the ledge of the windows. They laugh to themselves, a rumble of pipe and airplane, vibrating overhead. They remember likewise, bent, so the light strikes a memory and it breaks into a story of thread upon color upon emotion swerving into their fellows, the stories we tell of them, of their mounds and castles and feasts. And they continue to laugh.

In the insect glimmer of the swarming evening, they tell each other of plastic glitter heat-pressed onto t-shirts, of something wondrous that calls to our toes as they stretch beyond the plastic and rubber of our sandals, of children swimming through the errands, knees kicking in the front of the carts, flung in the swing of what they see above and around.

Tar pebbles and leaves press against the soles of their feet, still here, still at home, even with nothing royal to exalt them except the vision of this store, gleaming and moving like a filmstrip below them. A smell is enough, a bird curving over the parking lot, all the things that are at home in the whole in the where-nothing-is-seen that we breathe every second of every day, in the place we consign to dreams and draughts.

Glass breaks on a note you hear like a new connection between the neurons in your brain, nerves racing your ear and skin as a window shears into drops, melts in sound, falls and freezes into rainy chandeliers around the rim of one of those industrial lights. Something has shorted or leaked. Everyone pauses for the dimming of the lights. Everyone misses the creatures who land barefoot on the dusty tops of the freezer cabinets, who jump over the canvas bags printed with the store’s name, and land beneath the light full of shards of their passage.

None of the lights dim.

They stand there barefoot, holding hands. A voice rises along the rainbow dust coiling like smoke above them. “We can walk it. Even here, in this place, there is the path to wisdom.” You glance around the maze of shelves and wonder.

Eventually, evening evaporates and the windows become night-blind. The store is sealed, light reflecting itself, reflecting everyone back into the glimmering concrete, back onto the shoulders of the wine bottles, into the aluminum counters and the edges of the freezer doors. A labyrinth in a fun house.

Beneath the upper balcony, a couple approaches the checkout. Their cart is sparse, eyes blank, shuffling forward. There is wildness evaporating from them in the lights, like a bright plastic label peeling from them. Organic. Sustainably harvested. Fair trade. Words bubble up like hot plastic, sealing the tar dust and the gnat glitter.

It’s time to grab whatever remains and leave the great supermarket that gleams up at you, lights brilliant as teeth shimmering in the concrete. There are straps to wrap about waists and shoulders, there are things to seal against the outside.