Time flies between Boren and Minor. That’s where mom and pops live. Their building is gray too. Slabs of Soviet style concrete. Patches of lighter gray where management has spray-painted over graffiti. Someone’s scribbled over the light gray in a final affront.
“Next time use 409. Spray paint looks bad.”
Jorjian grimaces. It seems a fire’s broken out on Boren and Union. 1400 block. Could be the Panorama House. Could be some other complex. It’s early, first morning of bitter air, sharp leaves and haunted light. Mom wouldn’t be awake yet. But pops, the news junkie, would be up by five, getting ready to work at the shelter. He is driven to the TV set by the sirens outside, warning him not of the nearby hospital entrances, but of fire, sharp and blazing, black smoke billowing outside his seventh floor bedroom.

Jorjian remembered that her mom used to chase firetrucks. Like blundering whales sounding throughout the city streets at night, the trucks would haunt each alley, softly moaning at one another. And Jorjian’s mom would sit in her black car, transfixed by the sight, meant for her eyes only.

People burned that morning on Boren. A kid heard his mom scream and glass pop into his room. Deep black ash billowed as Jorjian’s pops watched it all unfold on the tube a block away. Jorjian called Meghan, now across the world, who told her things would clear up soon. And then she called her cousin, Abbi, who told her that pepper spray was illegal in Europe, so it was a horrible idea to visit. Jorjian didn’t want to visit. She wanted to stay. Go to Berlin maybe, someplace free of Boren and its atomic heat.

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