Joe and his sis Lydia got in the car to go to the mall that day. “Come on Sis, let’s go,” Joe said. Joe was waiting. Lydia was always forgetting something. She was just checking to make sure she didn’t forget anything. “Sure thing, here I come!” Lydia said. She pounded when she walked and she pounded down the steps of the garage into the car. “Alright Sis, here we go.” Lydia had her camera with her. She started to take some pictures as they drove. “What are you doing Sis?” Joe asked. “Just taking some pictures,” Lydia said.
It took about a half hour to get to the mall. When they got there, Lydia wasn’t really thinking of buying anything. She followed her brother Joe around. She looked down the long atrium of the mall. She snapped some photos. She watched her brother ascend the escalator. She took a pic. Joe said, “Hey Sis, I’m just gunna look at some sneakers. Maybe you take a break from the photo op?” Lydia smiled, “Sure thing. I’m gunna look at this empty store next door.” “Cool Sis. See ya in few.”
Lydia walked over to the empty store. She hadn’t thought about it, but the mall seemed pretty empty. She remembered when she was little and would come here with friends and just walk around. “What did we have to talk about,” she wondered. She peered into the empty store. The door was shut and the lights were off. It looked as if they had started to gut it. The ceiling was coming down, and some of it was in chunks on the floor. It used to be a Rainbow, a chain for reasonably priced young adult clothing. The Rainbow sign was on in the back, lit up. Lydia pushed the door and found it was unlocked.
She walked inside and started sifting through the debris. A lot of hangers and chrome hooks. The mirrors on the walls were broken. She saw herself cut in half, seeing the top half of herself as a dead piece of plywood. She walked all the way back to the Rainbow sign and turned around looking out from the dark store toward the outside of the mall. It was very cold in there. The carpet was dusty and part of a mannequin lay face down on the floor. She stared at the reflection of herself looking back from the doorway before she decided to leave.
The sun was setting when her and Joe walked back to the car. Lydia was tired and decided she had taken enough pictures. Joe and her didn’t talk much on the way home. Driving down the highway, Lydia watched the road rails speed along. She began to remember a few years ago when her dad was supposed to pick her up from an after-school program but forgot. He was always early and she remembered how it was peculiar that her dad wasn’t the first car in line that day. He had a white Ford Explorer but, that day, all the other cars seemed to be of other brands and other colors. Eventually all the kids left and the principal said not to worry and she should sit at her desk and wait while she called her house. The principal walked away. Lydia looked around her office and saw the photograph of the principal’s daughters and the stuffed animal frog on her desk. She suddenly felt more worried and alone. She stared at the screen saver in which a big “HELLO” bounced from each edge of her principal’s computer screen, never stopping. Her eyes started to swell and she turned her face out the window to see the moon. She remembered how alone she felt, how she thought maybe everyone was gone forever, that all she had was her principal she didn’t want to ever know. She didn’t want this to be the rest of her life, she didn’t want to remember this, she thought. In the background, the principal told her her father was on his way, but Lydia wasn’t listening, as she pressed her hands together and prayed to god.