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“I just like watching the people, y’know?” Jessica said, pulling more of the Orange Julius into her mouth, “I like thinking about what their lives are like, or making up stories for them – sometimes I get really elaborate with it.  Last week I made up three generations worth of backstory for woman wearing a salmon colored blazer.”

“Because of the blazer?” Nina asked.

“Because she caught my eye.”

Nina glanced around the food court.  There was certainly more than enough to look at: new mothers navigating their SUV strollers, the determined walk of the track-suited elderly.  Coming down a corridor, a gaggle of prepubescent girls shrieked and giggled; no doubt eager to spend their allowance money on the pleasure of buying, rather than having.  Elsewhere, a group of juveniles like peacocks engaged in earnest displays of courtship.

“It’s like a zoo,” Nina said.

“What?” Jessica pricked up her ears.  Their conversation was barely audible to one another over the hum of other people.  Overhead, the mall tv blared, its banalities amplified poor acoustic choices.

“It’s like a zoo, y’know?  You come and see the animals?”

“No,” Jessica shook her head, “It’s like a jungle.  Here we observe suburban human in it’s natural habitat.  They gather at the watering hole.”

Nina followed Jessica’s gesture up, observing the the fluorescent canopy held in place by massive pillars, then down again to the masses below.  She smiled limply.  The notion of their safari was equally comical and depressing.  She stacked up the remains of her slick-packaged carrion.

“Ready?”  Jessica asked, discovering an empty sound with her straw.

“Yeah.  I just want to stop at one or two places yet.”
They rose and left their table, depositing their trays in the appointed bin.  The circle of life and wrappers. Nina and Jessica assimilated into the slow stampede back toward commerce, passing a man with mop and bucket as they went.

The picture comes from Wiki Commons.  Public domain image.

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