Scrounger: Nine

ally saw the photograph in the newspaper that morning. She saw it and thought, “God, that’s an amazing photograph.” It was awful, but profound, and it captured the fear that was going to pulse through the city.

It hadn’t yet, but that photograph was to become the emblem of that new life.

At work, her co-workers talked about it, and talked about it still.

She placed a few more pictures of spring on her walls, and adorned her life with more color, even though the sidewalks weren’t as crowded as they used to be, even though her office seemed emptier.

“Are people taking more sick days?” she asked her cubicle partner.

“I think they’re afraid,” he said. His eyes were red-rimmed, and his neck was fire engine red. She shook off a shudder and nodded, got up to watch the TV in the corner. It was helicopter footage: A crowd stumbled toward a person who had fallen. The footage became out-of-focus.

“It’s like they’re scrounging for something to eat,” her boss said right next to her. Sally started to itch.