Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Bench

There are people everywhere inside the mall now. It is like someone turned on a faucet outside and instead of water out poured people. People that Fortune has never seen before in his entire life. People that don’t look anything like his father. People who have beards that aren’t nearly as short. There are women who look like his mother but have darker hair, or tighter pants, or earrings hanging from their ears. There are people holding children’s hands. Fortune runs by them and he wants someone to hold his hand but he doesn’t want it to be a stranger, or a person in a dark blue shirt, or that guy with the castle on his t-shirt. Fortune wants to hold his parents hands. He wants to feel their hands on his back and he wants to hear his dad tell him that it is ok. That he is sorry.
The last thing he wants is to be stuck here in the mall. He has seen movies where people are forgotten and locked away inside buildings, or schools, or houses, or shut into caves and those people always get really scared and feel alone at night. There is something deep down inside of Fortune that makes him think that if he runs fast enough, eventually, he will just run into his parents. He won’t be able to miss them.
The heat starts to hit Fortune’s lungs. He slows down. The world slows down with him. Fortune can actually look into the stores at his sides. He has stopped in front of an oxygen bar.
Fortune watches a woman push some tubes up into her nose. She looks like people do when they are in a hospital bed and can’t breathe right. But she is sitting in the mall and it is still early in the morning and she looks fine and healthy and happy. She doesn’t look like she needs to go to the hospital at all. She still has tubes in her nose.
Fortune sits down on a bench and tries to hug himself again because he knows he doesn’t have his pillow.
The mall has come alive and the women in the tracksuits are long gone. Fortune starts to feel small and it hurts his chest when he takes deep breaths. His lungs have never worked so hard. There are strangers all around him and he doesn’t know where he is going. His eyes hurt. His vision feels a little blurry. He wants to give up. He holds onto the edges of the bench just to feel something solid underneath him. If he goes blind here he won’t ever get out of here. There will be no way he could ever find his way out of this mall without his eyes. Even if he managed to do it, he would never make it back across the country, to his house.
So Fortune sits on the bench and shuts his eyes. He thinks about every place he has ever been to with his parents and the images appear side by side one another in his mind. He thinks about the greatest places they have seen together. He thinks about going to Round Island and digging for the treasure chest and lifting the treasure chest up and opening it and finding his parents inside.

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