I looked up from the pavement, and noticed three people in a line, walking down the sidewalk toward me. The little girl on the far left couldn't have been more than four years old; the old man on the right couldn't find a shirt before they left the house. The tall man in the middle was working on a 40 of Bud Light. Judging by the effort it took to swing it up, he was on the final lap. Judging by the heat of the sun, it was about 1:30.
There was a beat-up white building on my left. According to the little girl, this old "barely-used" furniture store was still in business. She ran ahead of the group and stuck her pig-tailed head just inside the door. "Daddy, can we go in here?" she asked, swirling back around in her lightly-soiled, white sun dress.
"No. Not today, hun." the man in the middle replied.
"Okay, daddy." She walked back up the sidewalk and gave Daddy's leg a big hug. Shirtless cracked a smile as I walked past the gang.
The scene carved out a pit in my chest. If it was a vacuum, it would explain the crunchy, unsatisfied feeling in my ribs while they caved inward. My eyes glazed; my lungs couldn't fill. I bit my lip and blew melancholy breath out from my nose. If I could have said so, I would have sworn that after two more beats, my heart would have been on the pavement in front of me in my pathetic weakness. The little girl whitewashed my mind and I forgot where I was and where I was going.
I don't remember what I was thinking about just before all that, but I do remember wiping the tear off my cheek.