The Cedarville Review 2024

24 CREATIVE NONFICTION between your home and where you stood. Your mailbox glistened. Three numbers winked against the white— your address: 434. With a rattling breath, you exhaled in relief. In your heart, you whispered a silent prayer, Thank you, God. Your feet quickened as they hit the driveway. Home. You couldn’t get back soon enough—warmth, light, hot cocoa, family. You blink back into the present— mid-September. The mall. A woman’s voice echoes across the void. “Attention all shoppers. The time is now 7:54. The mall will be closing in 6 minutes. Please complete all purchases and make your way to the exit immediately.” 7:54. What an odd time to be making an announcement. Perhaps she meant to do it at 7:55 but was a minute early and didn’t want to lie about the clock. She couldn’t get the words out fast enough. She wanted to fi ll the awkward gap between the mall’s active hours and the end of her shift. Could she have been speaking directly to you? Your chest infl ates with a mix of guilt and panic. You shouldn’t be here anymore. The employees want to lock up. What will they say if they fi nd you here, just staring, zombifi ed, waiting for the satisfaction that you always expect to fi nd in a place like this, but never do? In just a few minutes, that woman will have every reason to believe she is alone. But at this moment in time, the mall’s population is uncertain. Despite you yourself being a straggling customer and, henceforth, the very source of her discomfort, you sympathize with her unease. There is something so haunting about intermediate time and space.