Empty Carton

Harriet thinks about time on a walk to the supermarket.

Harriet walked the downtown streets, her head turned to the ground. She watched the lines in the cement sidewalk roll by as she stepped forward, like a filmstrip. She stopped walking and the film paused; she took a step backward and the film reversed. The passage of time was negotiable.

A fly buzzed over the sidewalk, interrupting her thoughts. She idly rubbed the back of her neck, and considered the possibility that she would have missed the fly entirely, if only she hadn't wound the filmstrip of her life in reverse. 

But it was all too complicated for Harriet, who liked to dream and rub her neck, often at the same time. Stepping away from the dreaming was difficult, because it meant the dream could come true or it could disappear -- neither seemed a good outcome.

There was great comfort in everyday routines. She lifted her head and blinked while looking through the windshield of a parked car. A bright green air freshener, in the shape of a pine tree, hung from the rear-view mirror. "Chartreuse," she said aloud, and suddenly remembered the empty carton of milk on her kitchen counter. She'd left it there as a reminder -- she was on her way to the store just then.

The End

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