In the museum where you dropped your earring, dust gathers like an eager crowd at a movie premiere. You are Cinderella played by Scarlett Johansson, I am an out-of-work Marcello Mastroianni, my scooter in pieces in my cold water apartment, and the dust is bustling for autographs and selfies. Figures clipped from sewing patterns lean from windows, waving in the breeze, calling down imperial measurements in primary coloured voices, but their encouragements and imprecations are lost in the excited dusty chatter. Behind us, rooms open up into rooms, each hushed with the sanctity of Dutch Masters and space exploration. You look one last time for your dropped earring, but see nothing but paint and stars, so we check our imprimatura and the seals on our EVA suits, entrust ourselves to flashbulbs and layer upon layer of dust.
Albeit unwillingly, I follow fashion, imagining illness in each small discomfort, isolating myself further with each shallow breath. I can’t help but think about Camus, all death and allegory, who I haven’t read since school. My French was poor, and all I remember clearly is Tarrou scratching away at his perfect opening line, failing every time and getting no further, and I look askance at my own thoughtless openings. Albeit unwillingly, I check bus timetables, caught in the crossfire of recommendations to avoid public transport and the need to attend a medical appointment on the outskirts of town. The surgery always appears abandoned, but now the emptiness seeps through paved veins, infecting the heart of the city. I can’t help but think about Bradbury, who I haven’t read since waking up in a stranger’s house and searching for something familiar. My grip on reality was poor, but I clearly remember the light through suburban curtains and distrust of the casual flaneur, and I consider walking to where houses give up the land to brambles and foxes, leaving behind fashion and assumed guilt, taking nothing but a harmonica and a repeat prescription.