green light

It’s warm enough to wear shorts outside, humid enough to drench yourself in bug spray (a sick-sweet smell, like overripe apples at the grocery store). All the leftover Halloween candy is nothing but empty wrappers, and as of glancing at the tiny digital clock at 12:32 AM, it’s Friday the 13th.

There’s an office chair, the kind that creaks when you sway back and forth, and a newly discovered song working its way through gray earbud cords. Beyond the laptop screen, an orange-marker drawing of a ukulele is taped to the wall.

There’s a painting (a boy, a rose, a fox), a midnight letter (stars on the envelope), a picture of the sky (pale reflections in the water). On the floor, a bulky picture frame rests in the place where it fell from its hook. A small green frog blinks up at you from behind the glass, observing.

Seeing as the sleep-avoiding child in question was born on a Friday the 13th, this is…. rather… rude.

Those were back in the days when there were carpeted floors and single beds and parking lots and our Dollar General was just an abandoned hotel with paint peeling away around the door. Was the world quieter then, or does everything just feel quieter when you’re too small to see out the car windows?

Beneath a badly printed picture of a golden retriever, a bulky black printer sits stoic and still. There are fingerprints in the dust along its edges, and on its screen, the smallest green light blinks on and off, on and off, on and off—a lonely rhythm in the tired yellow night.

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