You and I took the old Jetta out there years ago. We drove into the sunset because you couldn’t wait for morning. On the drive over, you bounced your leg up and down and pointed out each color—the orange hue that turned pink, like the jars of powder you mixed t9 lemonade. I reached over and touched your thigh to steady it. You calmed. You wrapped your hand around mine. It felt soft, small. Your skin looked pale against my own, tinted red. The radio played old love songs, lyrics I didn’t know. I smiled when you belted out each word loudly, with confidence. You didn’t care that you sounded like a screeching cat when you missed the high notes. And neither did I. My memory often recreates your voice as flawless. I have to remind myself not to disgrace you with perfection.
When we got to the water, you pulled me out of the car and dragged me through the sand. It smelled like salt and taffy. The wind blew your hair in your eyes, and each time I tucked it behind your ear, more of it flew forward. You laughed and kissed me and I tasted your long, wavy strands on my tongue. …
On Friday, the crowd stopped by the most vulnerable place. A library. An orchard. A school.
The people in the crowd raided bakeries because they’d never baked bread. Shot at rotten houses because they’d never had to live in filth. Every experience they didn’t get, they annihilated for the humans to come.
Then the caravan trudged onward. The nurses on duty cursed as they removed broken glass from bleeding bodies.
They had marched for the same number of days as the age of their oldest walker. 83.
I traveled with the crowd for 9 Fridays. On the 10th, the crowd schemed to raid every treehouse in a suburb where white picket fences got hosed with an unlimited supply of potable water. Where roads extended into dead ends and every pothole was the cause for an evening’s complaint.
I grew up in a place like that. Then I left for a college more isolated than my town. All while I dreamed to see more.
When the crowd swept through the candy aisle, I joined. My father said, “Don’t go.”
I said nothing when I slammed through his door. Behind me, my mother cried.
Some memorable members of the crowd were: Henry, who squeezed his legs close at the table to pick dirt from under his toenails.…