Tidying Up

by Lacey Sugarman

I must exercise my futility, she thinks, if I can’t exercise anything else. The day before, she tried to jog, defeated by shouts of “whore” and laughter down and around the dirt roads, all for her black and white nylon running shorts, naively tucked away in a suitcase oceans ago. Her box of a room couldn't accommodate jumping rope, despite her best attempts; at night she managed to knock down all three of her flickering candles with one fell swoop of the cord. Damn, she thought as the flames died out upon contact with the floor, the place didn’t even take fire. Damn fucking concrete floors, she thinks again, as she sweeps and sweeps in the afternoon heat, her back parallel to the floor, like the women do here, gripping the bunch of reeds tied together by the blind kid who sits in the market on Tuesdays and smiles widely at every 200-shilling coin she places in his hand. The dust will settle back before the day is done, but for a minute, a quick minute, she will feel like something is in its right place – is this the “helping” she came here to do?


Lacey Sugarman lives in Portland, Oregon. She spends her days trying to reconcile her simultaneous urges to travel and to stay in place.