The Cedarville Review 2024

THE CEDARVILLE REVIEW 33 You approached the archway, took a breath, and—snapped back into reality. Your daydream fades. The mall brightens. Adrenaline sharpens your vision. Someone is coming. Rubber shoes squeak against the fl oor. They crescendo. You clutch your unbought clothes as if, at any moment, you could fl y away and leave them behind. You exhale. Without giving another thought to the wonderful world you’re leaving at your back, you turn and walk back into JCPenney. Up ahead, next to the nearest changing room, you spot a half-collapsed rolling rack and deposit your clothes. Your arms fl oat with the relief of putting them down. You hadn’t realized how heavy they were, how many outfi ts had accumulated over your shopping trip. You pause for a moment between the changing room doorway and the new line of fall fl annels that are, like everything else, astronomically marked down. A din escalates over your head. You turn your face to the ceiling. This isn’t the startling roar of the AC unit, but a different kind of white noise—a gentle roll echoing through the store. Rain. It reminds you, somehow, of the St. Louis tunnel—the hum of moving air through such a vast, underground space. Your mind returns to the ghost tour, where you stepped beneath the arch as the tour guide’s fl ashlight illuminated the bricks over your head. You noticed the cracked mortar between them. After a hundred years, it still held the structure in place. You marveled.