When the morning came we found the huts torn and streets rent. The others said nothing—they would not even turn towards me—but it was clear from their silence what they thought. We crossed the bridge in the afternoon, our packs heavy with salvage. We had found no bodies. No women, children, men. No cries or whispers or gruntings. No blood or bone or organ. No hair or nail, no gut, no flesh, no casings. But their things—what wasn’t upturned, spilled, or wrecked—we wrapped and put into our bags. Beneath the bridge the smell of bleach, cords and tires, twisted rods, bent axles, ripped canopies, and the black and bubbling muck. The trees wore fungal bloom, fuchsia, olive, wet, the tips of each papilla white and swollen. With darkness we set up on the road, laying our weary bodies on our packs. We were afraid to touch all else. A fire: dead stalks that had fallen from the trunks, leaves and weeds that we kicked up from the floor, the odd branch. A nervous hum as we scraped to the bottoms of our cans. And, finally, night. For the others to wait until I ceased stirring, until my eyes closed and breathing steadied, until the rot and bleach and wreckage were overcome by blot, by sleep.

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