A green pickup shivered at the corner, dark and anonymous windows like a mask around its cab. Driverless, it slid past Necessity Jones, a lawnmower rattling in the back, its handle bouncing. Necessity believed she was the only person in town that day. The sidewalk blurred, the air thick with August. The stoplight at the end of the block turned; Necessity saw the red bulb switch off, its light crumple away in the heat. The green bulb lifted itself on sweaty arms and glowed. Sweat pooled in the street. Necessity pulled at her shorts, pink nylon wrinkling, folded up between her thick thighs. The tree across the street moved its leaves with Necessity’s breathing, without noise. No engines. No birds. No echoing voices. She didn’t hear the stones pop beneath her sandals. She felt tiny waves in the flesh of her legs.
The promise of Mika’s apartment, dark and dry and air-conditioning cool, danced 5000-Watt electric blue in the air above the stoplight cables.
The color of junebugs, bottle-flies, old soda cans caught in Necessity’s glasses, swirled in the thick lenses. Her tee-shirt began to shrink, alive, trying to wring itself dry. The air around her shook, thunder in her lungs, a giant temple bell stroked in the center of her skull. Her bones liquefied, like granite deep in the earth, and Necessity Jones fell.
The shadow of a telephone pole lay across her eyes like a blindfold. Mika would be waiting with the cards and cold juice from the refrigerator. She’d never find her here. The pickup squealed around the next corner, the tires crying like a prehistoric beast in a canyon, the sound racing along the hot air next to the ground, breaking against Necessity’s arms. The police car arrived first, then the paramedics’ van, then a long firetruck, pulled there as if by gravity. Men stood above her, their mouths moving, asking questions that rose in the humid air. Necessity saw them catch currents at roof level and scramble together into crosswords.
She felt the concrete darkening beneath her. The rescue vehicles’ noses pointed to her, circled like hounds at a tree, the uniforms moving without bodies in them, fingers shoved under her limbs. Necessity looked up into the white sky and said, “Am I there? Am I there yet? Am I there?”