The Walgreen’s will close soon. The cashier has made the announcement, and Alex waits for the lights of the store to flicker. She wonders whether she can squeeze on the shelf behind some lawn chair cushions instead of going home, whether the employees will forget about her and she can sleep among the purr of the refrigerator case, the cleaning lady’s vacuum, whether the store will go dark and her heart will shut off like the automatons at Chuckie Cheese. She holds a box of tampons in one hand, a Magic Eight Ball in the other. She has asked the latter whether she and Nola will get back together. Concentrate and Ask Again, it answers. She closes her eyes, thinks of that time in Nantucket; their hands full of beach pebbles, shiny and wet like marbles. She thinks of Nola in her bed, somewhere in this city, hand cupped, still feeling the weight of them.

Jen Michalski’s first collection, Close Encounters, is available from So New (2007) and her second is forthcoming from Dzanc (2013). She is the editor of City Sages: Baltimore (CityLit Press 2010) and editor of the literary e-zine JMWW.