Reading Terminal Market is stuffed to the gills with sweat soaked chattering humanity and cheesy, fishy, smokey, deep fried odors. You are a salmon with an unrelenting will to live, you’re catapulting upstream one fin at a time when you see an opening and slip into the void of the Amish candy shop. A neatly dressed girl in a crisp white bonnet rings up cellophane packages of chocolates, gummi worms, malt balls, lemon drops, sour rings, pistachios, swedish fish. You are not thinking about dad. Your warm hand slightly fogs the wrapped treats; if you grip them long enough, maybe they will liquefy. Your tongue is remarkably dry. Don’t think about dad. Don’t think about anything.
Don’t think about the stash of sugar coated jelly oranges in the glove box. Don’t think about the wordless fist of sweet gelatin he’d transfer into your palm after school. The market is suddenly still, the heartbeat of the Amish girl is amplified or maybe it’s a drum or an impending tsunami. It is not your blood in your ears, it is not a leaping in your chest because you are not thinking about him. You are not thinking about him or the bundle of tubes and hoses that kept him suspended in his mechanical bed, you are not thinking about the determined beeping of the heart monitor. You are not thinking about the plastic smiling sympathy of the organ donation representatives, the cheap ceramic heart pendant they offered you in exchange for his body, or the fact that in spite of a quadruple bypass four years prior, his heart was the last part of him to still. You are just gripping the chocolate raisins or the swedish fish or something crinkly. You are the only salmon in a sea of cellophane, a bathtub of jellyfish, a bear’s jaw, an aquarium of breath.
The register flies open and the coins clink against each other. The Amish girl adjusts her bonnet and sighs, and you are thinking about the impossibility of drowning.