Memorial City Mall

The mall slumped off to one side of the highway, a corporate mirage on the edge of a searing-hot asphalt desert. It was connected to the hospital by means of an overpolished glass skyway, that only served to make the mall seem dated and the hospital seem desperate to be liked. Daily, a caravan of cancer patients and office drones traipsed the skyway on their way to the food court, lumbering inexorably toward the mall’s promise of wish fulfillment. Inside, the mall was indistinguishable from any of the other thousands of malls in America. Clerks hurried from stores, tucking their lanyards out of view and pulling their sweaters over their embroidered logos. The faint swish of thighs shoved into polyester hinted at retirees using the mall as a cheap alternative to a gym. Children dragged parents from store to store to argue about shoes and skirts, the parents blissfully oblivious that they would someday haunt the corridors alone, wishing someone would pick a fight with them about an ill-advised hat. It was late in the morning and the air conditioning was already struggling to keep out the Texas heat, which which seemed to swirl downward on a cloud of golden dust from the many desperately tinted skylights. Peter would never find what he needed here.

One Comment

  1. J. Patrick Hanley

    I’ll break my habit of trying not to write about writing, at least when I’m doing an actual assignment. This assignment was to describe a building from the perspective of a parent who had just lost a child, to evoke – but never mention – the feeling of loss and grief. A curious aspect of this exercise was that the natural evocative emotions of a shopping mall in Houston, Texas tends to run a bit away from grief. I decided I needed to hint around grief and loss by focusing on the mall’s physical connection to the hospital and its metaphysical connection to the emptiness of capitalism. The imagery of dust suspended in skylights is something I’ve personally observed in this particular mall, and it gives an eerie effect of being frozen in time (at least to me).

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