When the dust mask is covered in soot I take it off and add it to the sack slung over my shoulder. The rubber straps have left imprints all across my face, sore to the touch. I take another one out of the box and put it on anyway, trying to change the angle enough so it doesn’t dig into the same grooves as the last one. The seal fits poorly over my beard but I already used my last razor and I haven’t made it to the store yet.
I’ve been making progress, though. For example, I’ve almost caught up to whoever is on the road in front of me. I haven’t actually seen them yet, just their sack. Judging from the size, I’m guessing whoever’s pulling it must be twenty, thirty years older than me. For every time I manage two or three steps, they’re lucky to move an inch.