Sitting on a Bench at the Mall

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Today’s Prompt: Go to a local café, park, or public place and write a piece inspired by something you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

I sat on a bench in the mall.

I had been in this mall hundreds of times growing up, whenever I needed a new pair of jeans, a dress to wear to homecoming, or a haircut. I remember my friends shopping at the 3, 5, and 9 shop, the equivalent of today’s Abercrombie and Fitch, while I hit the discount racks at Shillitos. The mall had lots of cool stores in those days. Now it is filled with empty storefronts and discount shops selling shoes, off-brand clothes, ball caps, and t-shirts.

I sat in my aloneness, feeling like I mattered little to the passers-by.  I, like the mall, had outlived my glory days.

I watched a young man stroll by, his dark eyes looking past me. He was pushing a stroller with a curly-haired toddler in it and turned to speak to his petite companion, her belly looking ripe with the next baby waiting to get out.

I closed my eyes and succumbed to the memory that started occupying my brain. It was in this very spot in the mall that I had sat waiting for my mom to come out of the hair salon. I waited until I saw her fire-engine red hair and bright yellow dress. The bump under her dress, my sister to be, looked out-of-place on her thin frame. She smiled at me and took my hand. I had just returned from summer camp and basked in the glow of her attention. I would wait a long time for another moment like this.

When I opened my eyes the stark mall came back into view, and like a SnapChat photo, the 15 second memory was now a blank screen.

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