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Heat ripples through the air. Ash is carried on the breeze, where it tumbles off like fall leaves. The barrel rolls over hot coals and inside the cage, bright green New Mexican hatch chiles char slowly. Their flesh blackens, toughens. Spice stings my nostrils and lingers around my head. Steamy Ziploc bags. Five dollars a piece for the last smoky taste of summer.

A woman buys two bags. She unzips them in her car and breathes chile to remind her of what she left behind on a dirt road so long ago.

— 30 —

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