Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Mara, youngest of the three, pauses from moving boxes to lean against the building wall. It's blank and smooth and solid under her hand, thick ceramic, shining and clean, merging into the pavement in a lumpy, melted seam. You could eat off this street, she thinks, and she can vividly picture herself vomiting violently without warning. She stands very still.

'Let's get you out of the sun or whatever they call it', says Rachel, pulling at Mara's shoulder.

'I don't think it's that', says Mara, letting herself be led inside. 'Okay, it's probably that. I just got a little dizzy. Even though I didn't look at it.'

'Don't look at the sky during the day', Rachel recites. The first sentence in their Hearthstown orientation brochures, repeated no less than five times. 'But it can still get to you. It's not safe. Why didn't we wait to do this at night again?'

'We're paying per hour for the truck', says Mara, sitting down on the stairs. The stairwell is mostly worn old wood, smelling of nice oils and hot electricity, filled with the pale crackling hum of fluorescent lights. Much nicer than outdoors. 'I'll help, just have to find my balance.'

'It's no big deal', says Ako, stepping down the stairs. With a hand on the railing she leaps over Mara's head, lands on the floor and keeps walking out the door, sleek and fluid in motion. 'Get it? Because you're small? Come on Rachel and we'll take the beds together.'

The two larger girls carry Mara's bed up the stairs while Mara stands out of the way and sticks her tongue out at Ako.

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