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  • Mary Ellen Swee

Scranton Alley

It was hot in the alley. Our table was so small that laptops touched. Drinks stood side-by-side. William took a sip of his mocha through a thin black straw. He said it was too chocolatey. Joe corrected it with an unsweetened latte. Then my Topo Chico started to sweat a puddle under its glass. I turned away from my screen and watched while clear drops slid along the bottle’s neck, over its graceful shoulder, and down the body to its heel. Dozens of times I had taken the drink from the café cooler because the label advertised mineral water. It sounded like it should be good for me. But I did not know what Topo Chico meant. I googled the brand. Topo Chico. Little mole. An image of the volcano where the water sprang from looked like an ancient version of the creature at rest. Words jumped off the screen: healing, restorative, refreshing, delicious, curative, enchanting, hip. And there was a legend behind the magic elixir: an Aztec king’s ailing daughter recovered from a mysterious illness after drinking the pure liquid. I craved the potion with magical properties. Where could I purchase a case? My eyes rested upon the fine print at the end of the page: bottled at source by Pepsico, distributed by Pepsico in Scranton, PA.



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