The city is alive and breathes in that hulking slumber of summer. It can pull you in. It can change you but you can change it too; symbiotically we exist. This week Emily Hernandez explores such a relationship in “To See.” But here it is the cancerous and ragged breath of a city already in its death throes that entices Edie (or does she have a choice?).
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Summer is upon us; read in the shade.
To See by Emily Hernandez
Edie liked to wander. She liked that thrilling feeling of the unknown, of that clench in the pit of her stomach when she came upon something unexpected. In an effort to feel a bit more she took to wandering around her small, growing smaller, town. The drug store at the end of Main Street was her first. She had been walking aimlessly, avoiding spending time with people she would rather forget, and ended up in front of a once cheerful building with faded red and blue paint. She glanced around and saw nothing so she crept around to the back and crouched between the dumpster and a shed, knees level with one of those windows that sinks partially into the ground. Holding her breath she jiggled the latch and the window groaned open. She wiped her dirty, sweaty palms on her shorts, sat down and proceeded to scoot through the opening.
She coughed on the dusty stale air and took small cautious steps through the room heading for the door leading up to the store. Instead she found a flight of stairs blocked by some boxes. Irrationally worried that someone would show up she quickly shifted the boxes and went upstairs. She ended up, not in a storage room or a cramped office as she expected, but in a small bedroom with a single bed covered in worn blue sheets, a wardrobe, side table, and a thin layer of grit over everything. She didn’t touch anything. She just looked. She imagined what various images lay below the first snapshot of a child swinging in the stack of pictures on the table. She wondered what the desiccated flower in the glass cup had smelled like before it had been its slow descent back to base elements. Gazing at the wardrobe she speculated what would be found inside; dresses, overalls, boots, or sandals? Then, feeling inexplicably empty, she left, descending the stairs quietly and shimmying out the window, leaving behind the remnants of another person’s life without a glance over her shoulder.
This became her life. The emptying company town was her escape. She would sneak into an abandoned building for the feeling it gave her. She wasn’t sure if it was the thrill or the emptiness, the reassurance that she was still alive or the clear message that she would die that enticed her, but she continued. Edie liked to wander and with each death and loss in her town she gained, and lost a little piece of herself.
Lyle Rosdahl, a writer living in San Antonio, edits the flash fiction blog & best of in print for the Current. He created, facilitates and participates in Postcard Fiction Collaborative, a monthly flash fiction response to a photo. You can see more of his work, including photos, paintings and writing, at lylerosdahl.com.
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