Unless my hip is to do the talking, I've just wasted a quarter. I'm just holding the phone at my side, blankly staring into space. East Fooville is too insubstantial to stare into for more than a second; it isn't even on the damn map. I'm all numb inside, nothing moves me at all. I hear the radio playing from the car stereo; the music is cavernously empty all of a sudden, and the ads are obscene. This car is obscene.

I'm reduced to just the core being, my belongings in this backpack. Frivolity gone, optimism gone; nothing left here but belief, even if I have to unzip the backpack to make sure it's there, and not sitting on the floor back home, amidst a pile of junk mail and laundry. Nothing left but belief, a small hand-made rosary of plastic beads, and a great deal of love. I hope the love isn't dulled or warped by the numbness.

As it turns out, optimism was in the store, buying a Pepsi. Optimism waves from his spot in line; he counts his change, makes some small talk with the people in front of him, then turns and waves at me again. I wave back. Maybe the car seat won't make my back pain flare up again. I get back in and wait.

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