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P. Edward Cunningham


So I’m standing near a dumpster downtown sucking helium from a balloon when I notice a woman who resembles a younger woman I dated when I lived closer to the moon.

She works at a supermarket in her spare time and does so with little conviction. Numerous transparent bodies walk in and out of the supermarket. Most of the bodies are the bodies of ghosts and everyone knows ghosts are strangely affectionate when near an inflated balloon.

A man-ghost says something like please let me touch you and with a heightened voice I politely reply no.

A woman-ghost also mistakes me for a balloon and asks if she can kiss me. Can I kiss you? and with the same heightened voice I say no and I pass a few racks of magazines as I approach the only woman in the supermarket who has clearly not yet died.

The young woman sucks helium from the back of my throat and each ghost pauses to look upon us. The two of us stand there for a long time. We become a cramp in a crowded space of ghoul blood.

She looks at me and says I saw you standing beside that dumpster outside last week. And the week before that. I think you are a handsome pearl and you should not be standing near dumpsters.

We become each other’s clothing as our necks lean forward. We become one long glittering giraffe. We slide through the softparts and the hardparts of a deep and dugout melody.

In the distance—in the window we watch. Four or five bodies of customers draped over the sides of the dumpster. Deflated balloons hang from their cold wrists.

I couldn’t save them I say to the woman.

She ties a balloon to my wrist.

Neither could I.

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