Circumstances became such that we had to leave the minivan at the diner and walk through a busy park. There were all kinds of men with mild, mysterious smiles, wearing red athletic uniforms and chucking soccer balls against a fence. My grandma walked confidently ahead, skirting the fence, the men pausing to let her pass. As I followed, though, they began to throw the balls again, and I could feel the whisper of each as it sped past my head. The violence was in strange contrast to their smiles.
Somehow I lost track of my grandma, and went inside a decrepit parks maintenance building to try to find her. There was something wrong with this place, I realized: it was rat infested, I could sense them scurrying around in the shadows. The building’s unease felt more like a haunting than an infestation. There were all sorts of spiders and webs and egg sacs which clung to me now, and which I couldn’t get to fully leave my skin.
The sunlight outside was a relief, the men and their soccer balls less of a visceral threat as I began to make my way back to the minivan in hopes that my grandma was there.