by Chris East

In the basement of the department store there are bodies piled to the ceiling.

Marion has worked at the department store for 40 years. She has had 12 different managers and each one loved her dearly and valued her as a model employee.

In those 40 years the department store has not thrown out a single mannequin.

In the basement of the department store there are bodies piled to the ceiling. Plastic or wooden bodies filled with cracks and chips. Shattered heads and painted eyes and fingers and feet and painted breasts across every inch of the floor.

The basement is accessed by one staircase and one door. The key was lost a long time ago. 35 years ago. Marion has the key to the basement. She will not share it.

Besides Marion, not one employee in the department store knows that the building has a basement. She has been with the store longer than anyone. She is part of the department store and the store is part of her.

Late at night Marion is in the basement with the replica bodies. She has slept in the basement room every night for nearly 25 years. She cannot be sure exactly how long. She has become an old lady in the company of the bodies.

There is a bed and a lamp and they are buried deep in the sea of limbs. Marion sinks into the mattress with a wall of arms casting shadows as she sleeps. A forest.

Yesterday Marion danced on the street. The man with a guitar was singing songs by The Beatles and she was reminded of happy times. When she was a younger woman she listened to these songs and dreamed. Now she hears these songs and dances alone outside the department store she lives and sleeps and works in.

Chris East is from Northampton in England. He works in a theatre Box Office and writes, draws and plays music in order to distract himself.

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