Sunday Fish is delicate. He’s usually sleepy--either ready for sleep or recovering from it. His asthma and dust allergies are acute enough that he needs to cover his bed and couch in plastic sheaths. His mother hires a maid to vacuum and dust every other day. In the summer Sunday can’t venture outside without a face-mask. Despite its once pastoral setting, The Bottoms has some of the worst air-quality in the country. The smog from the beltway and from the city itself drifts out over Route Seven and hovers in the valleys. Sunday has food allergies: onions, cheese, milk, wheat, peanuts, chocolate, shrimp, shellfish, tomatoes. His ordinary meal consists of a salad without dressing, two boiled eggs, and a plain potato. No butter or sour cream.
         When Sunday was five his mother took him to the allergist. She said she was sure he must be allergic to something because he developed rashes frequently and sneezed often. The allergist tested him and agreed. The doctor gave Sunday medication, and Sunday’s mother pressured him for a prescription.
         “A prescription for what?”
         “For his allergies,” Mrs. Fish said. Sunday remembers how angry his mother could get when someone denied her wishes. She had little patience for those she viewed as obstacles. Eventually the doctor complied. Mrs. Fish wanted asthma medication as well. Sunday has forgotten most of the details. Sunday thinks he is who he is for a reason. Fate has a roll in life, he thinks.
         As a result of his condition Sunday Fish works out of his home, bookkeeping for a handful of small businesses. When he has the energy he works hard at his job. He has accumulated a nice array of contacts. Sunday lives in a small townhouse in The Bottoms, five minutes from where he grew up. He didn’t imagine living in a townhouse when he was a child, but it’s an acceptable place to call home. Sunday doesn’t have many ambitions in life. At least if Sunday had ambitions, he can’t recall what they were. He supposes he would like to meet a wife at some point, but he knows the likelihood of this is slim. He’s flabby. He has eczema. He doesn’t like to socialize. The pervasive allergies. As his mother says, “You have always been a special-needs case.” Once he wondered if his mother might actually find herself bolstered by his weakness. It was a passing thought, a dark cloud scudding by.
         Nights Sunday sits at his kitchen table, eats his potato and eggs and salad. Sunday can see the large houses of Meadow Haven looming above him on the ridges. He wonders if the air in the large houses might be better up there, if he would be more suited to live in a large house that didn’t collect so much dust so easily. When he thinks of Meadow Haven he imagines pristine cleanliness, homes that don’t even have dust. In houses that large, the air must take over. The air must sweep the dust from the windows or into giant filters. The large houses must dilute the dust somehow.
         When Sunday’s mother calls each night, he tells her he’d like to move. If he can ever save up enough money, he’d like to move to Meadow Haven, to one of the large houses. Somewhere he could breathe.

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