Slogan Barter

I spoke to myself in the mirror, still fogged from my recent shower. I spoke to the blur of my face.

"I need my jacket. My jacket and my sneakers, my briefs and my jeans, my baseball cap, my socks, and my wristwatch. I need a canteen of fresh water and my backpack with beef jerky and powdered soup and granola snack bars. I need hopeful thoughts in my mind and good intentions and a certain optimism about my face which will cause all who encounter me to feel a sympathy and not fear."

This was why when I stepped out into the rising sunlight and saw my neighbor, I was not obligated to apologize again for exposed privates. Instead, I wore my blue jeans and a red tee-shirt tucked in and a tan windbreaker and white sneakers and my digital wristwatch with compass and timer and thermometer. It was 68 degrees Fahrenheit. I wore a bright green backpack containing the soup and jerky and the granola snacks. The canteen of water I wore clipped to my belt with a carabiner, a strong one I trusted not to break if I needed to jump or run.

The glittering footprints were dimmed by the sun's light but still visible and I crouched low to find a good angle at which to view them, and I found it, and I proceeded away from my small brick cottage-style home with its kitchen still stinking of scorched gruel which masked the fresh soapy smell of my recent shower and there was the house behind me and I did not look back to it but I knew that unlike the void of death and hollow despair the previous night, the good brick house stood firm on its foundation, on the bedrock of my town, on my continent and my living planet tethered to the sun and it would be there when I returned. I did not look back.