Tchotchke

The dust was thick everywhere, a blanket of folded lint that choked the sound out of the air. My mask was heavy; with sweat, with tears, with the burden of having to be out there in the first place, rummaging through the debris of a broken world.

There was a display rack, the carousel kind that you could spin, near the front counter. It was festooned with keychains and little nameplates, a tchotchke Christmas tree for a morning that would never come. A dull charm caught my eye, and I pulled it free to hold it in my gloved palm. A thick transparent bubble covered a yellowed print of a grey kitten that looked as though it was about to pounce through its plastic prison at a mouse only it could see, and I was filled with such overwhelming sadness that I dropped to my knees and wept, clutching the ancient trinket to my chest.

After a time I snuffled and rose, then clipped the thing to my rifle, and moved on.

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