I WAS DEAD:
stone cold, there in the mall, standing as stiff as a mannequin.
The lighting was pale, all the departments were closed, and
a young woman stood next to me, also dead. Kindly, she took
my hand and guided me to the entryway, where it was brighter.
The front door was calmly monitored by a former acquaintance
who recognized her, nodded slightly, and buzzed us through.
By degrees we were becoming less robotic in our movements,
though not yet alive. And we continued down a tapering aisle
through another glass door and another, my recently-deceased
companion waved through by former coworkers and friends.
And I benefited too, though truly I was just along for the ride.
By now we could tell that the next bright gate would be the last,
and beyond it, street traffic and sun. But we were blocked by
a large man in a control booth who shook his head, stubbornly
barring us. Then all hope of leaving the commercial crypt fled,
and everything faded to black. When we came to, we were back
in the store—unable to move, adorned in heavy winter coats.