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Mauled by the Malled by Meg Tuite

I eat through the inside of a mall. I spot the same tie and jacket waiting for me every morning with legs shaking and a resigned forehead that shuttles from one metaphor to another in less time than it takes to inhale the coffee and muffin that are part of the deal. The noose is never taut. I let it hang around me as my knees mystify the shiny bathroom tile beneath, leaving an echo that swallows the walls for a moment. A sound that absorbs the reason he gets up to live another day. Yes, I do play my own suicide backgammon. It depends on how many discs I jump that day.

I stare into the same glass that distorts back all yesterdays and pretend to care about the camouflage high-tops or the diamond bands. Terror jump-ropes from sales people who silent film smiles of bankruptcy and ticking clocks.

The boy at the ice cream shop waves at me as he repositions his white paper cap back into place. He scoops deep into the gallon-sized canisters and in this exchange there is actual moisture dripping from these dried out families as he hands them their milk shakes and ice cream floats. Their arroyos puddle for a few silent minutes of air-conditioning and freedom from thought, but then scorch back into the crevasses that barely remember the frenzy of that trickling geyser that spasmed through their jean shorts and shackled life potency as they suck down joy with a slurp. The last pull of the straw reunites them again with their lives, spouses, children, bills, sexless reels, aching teeth and an empty socket of cardboard walls that border all that they know.

Night and day are stale memories for so many of us until we enter the mall. Like a casino, there are no windows or clocks to relay where we are in space when wandering this fluorescent universe.  The erratic buzz and nip from stranger’s eyes see me as an open wound to hone in on. I am mauled by the malled, but only on my terms. I sashay into T.G.I.F and see a whole lifetime of misery look up at me from the barstools. A guy, with supreme eyebrows that vault and vibrate, gives me the thrice over. I smile and my left eyebrow rises in answer. He will buy me dinner.

I order a margarita, some chips and guacamole, and sit down next to him.

Meg Tuite’s writing has appeared in numerous print and web sources, including Berkeley Fiction Review,Psychology Today Magazine BlogThe Adroit Journal, and  FictionautShe is currently working on a novel and always more stories. She is the fiction editor of The Santa Fe Literary Review and Connotation Press. She has a monthly column called “Exquisite Quartet” in Used Furniture Review.