A Mugging

by William Hawkins

My mugger takes me by my elbow and whispers it will all soon be over, telling me to look up in the night sky, look, see that there, that winking light going past? Way up high? He tells me—as his hand slips into my back pocket—it’s the International Space Station. Spinning in low Earth orbit, a pressurized tube of people and gadgets. “But,” as the weight of my wallet vanishes, “do you know how astronauts sleep?” He slips the watch off my wrist and answers his own question. “In body bags. Tethered. I looked it up,” he explains, palming my phone. “Astronauts sleep like corpses.” And he lifts off my glasses and balances them on the bridge of his nose. “Their arms float,” he says, “and so does the blood inside.” Then a gentle but firm hand on the small of my back as he leads me out saying, “Thank you, we’re finished, you did wonderfully.” And me still looking up, trying to find that winking light in a world that’s been smeared.

William Hawkins lives in Los Angeles, where he writes and practices talking about himself in the third person.
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