She rummaged breathily through a jumble of grey, plastic toys left alongside a collection bin.
Somewhere behind windows smeared in nicotine and dog saliva on a Ford Tempo, the rear bumper scarred with a Bush-Cheney 04 sticker, a little boy sat rigged into a car-seat with baling twine and clothespins. A dollop of purple hair fell across her eyes as she loosened a bungee-cord holding the trunk lid shut. She shoved aside a grill-less kerosene heater and laid a pink easy-bake oven alongside it. The boy pushed open the door and stepped out.
"You know the drill." She said, lighting a cigarette.
"I forgot the flashlight."
"You little twat! Well guess what?! You'll be in the dark. No wait, this one ya' can see, some. Gimme' your foot."
She cupped her hands and raised him into the opening of the clothing bin. The tip of her cigarette burnt his calf. He narrowly fit and fell softly into the clothes. A crescent of light reflected on the top of the bin. He massaged his calf.
"Anything good?!" She said.
"I can't see."
"Here's my lighter. Ya' ready?"
It fell into his hands.
"I'm lookin' for a decent coat. Ya' hear?"
He flicked the lighter and it ignited a straw hat. A ribbon of smoke unfurled through the opening.
"Mamma? The fire's spreadin'! I'm scared!"
"Cody! Gimme' your hand!"
She reached deep into the opening.
"Grab my hands!"
"Mamma I can't see!"
"Goddamnit' Cody here!"
He did not answer. A duo of flames hopscotched across the opening.
“Cody!” She wailed.
Smoke thickened. She retrieved a gallon container of iced tea from the front seat and tried to pour it in.
Cody’s blackened arm jutted out then disappeared into the smoke.
The paint buckled and popped on the bin. A group of people hurried toward her from a grocery store nearby. Together they watched. Some each other. And the woman now looked away, voicing to no one in particular, “What’s a single mom to do?”