>HOUNDSTOOTH

>In one of those ways she swept her hair back from her face, returned her hands quickly to the whirr of the computer. She picked it up again; she was carrying it—still live, still working—quickly up the street with the sort of stuttering steps shared only by the deeply impatient and the unbearably incontinent. Somewhere deep in the machine was a noise like the crunch of a soft apple and she scrunched up her face. She held the screen up and read the dangerously sick battery level. She hurried on.

She had on a thick coat, black-and-white houndstooth, appearing to be black with tilted white stars. It was far too hot for the coat but she had grabbed it instinctively upon leaving the house and had little time now to go back and return it to its hook. The jacket, and thick red stockings, and the burning hard drive in her arms. She was overheated, overtired, overrun.

Her destination was an unsure one—a computer shop she had half-remembered along a row of shops eight blocks from her house. A blind spot in her memory, perhaps, but she hoped hoped hoped she was right. Rounding the corner, a large yellow truck had pulled up over the pavement, stinging her with a blinding reflection. She closed her eyes, swore, and dodged out onto the road. She heard the car before she saw it—a green station wagon with wood panels, the kind they drove in American midday movies—and it swerved too late to avoid her, and her houndstooth jacket, and her computer. She slammed against the hood of the car, and her black-and-white arms shot out to save her, and the computer fell to the road, cracking, opening up, spilling whatever precious things lay inside it.

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