Rog and Yul walked from store to store, hand in hand. The City of Hope had almost anything one could want. John had given them a credit slate with more value than they could spend in a year, and, John had laughed, spend that and I’ll give you two more; and so they walked and they looked and Yul’s excitement grew dimmer by the hour.

“We can buy anything we want. What do you think?” asked Rog, trying to lift her mood with his own. Yul was unusually quiet. She looked lost. “What’s wrong baby? What did I say?”

“You know what shopping is?” asked Yul, tears filling her big eyes.

Rog pulled her in tight. “I don’t know baby, tell me.”

“It’s a future.”

Rog pulled her tighter, not sure what to say to that.

“Look around. See all these people? Look at their faces, their eyes. They have a future. I saw it in my grandmother.”

“What did you see baby?”

“When she was near the end, she lost all desire to go shopping. My mother couldn’t pull her out of the house or interest her in anything. She just didn’t care anymore. Material things mattered not the least to her and you know what? She was never that way.”

“Baby, don’t talk that way. You have a future. We have a future.”

Yul shook her head. “You don’t understand.”

“Then tell me. Help me understand. Make me understand.”

“I don’t feel it. Or perhaps I do. I do feel the emptiness. I feel it like an endless gray day. Nothing but gray, everywhere I look. There’s just nothing there.”

“Baby, I’ve told you, we are going to beat this thing.”

“It’s not just that,” said Yul, her voice trailing away as her eyes looked down and to the right. Her shoulders drooping with the lifelessness of a puppet put away.

Rog was starting to get exasperated. “Then what is it?” A tone rising in his voice he quickly regretted.

Yul either didn’t hear or didn’t care. “Don’t you feel it? Our life. What is it Rog? Is this home? Are we going to stay here? And if not here, where? Bravo? Is that our home? Look at all this stuff. Do you really want any of it?” queried Yul, her eyes boring a hole right through Rog.

“Well, . . .”

Yul stomped off. “Call me when you get it.”

Rog stood as a boulder in a sea of people as Yul disappeared in the crowd. “Damn, what the hell was that?”

Categories: Story, Rog, Yul