short story

The Grocery Store

Inspired in part by Daily Post and their “Moment of Clarity” prompt from 12/27/13. It’s a bit first-draft-y but I wanted to get something published today.

During the day the grocery is an assortment of too thin older women with smeared eyeliner, young women with the broken look that settles into the features of every new mother, and lost elderly men. I float between them like a ghost, past the perfectly coiffed old lady with dazzling red lipstick who always elicits a smile, around toddlers squirming out of a car-shaped cart, and between teenaged boys stocking shelves directly in front of something I need to buy. I almost walk into all of them, every time; I’m so busy watching them that I can’t see them.

Once in a while there is someone who seems awake roaming the aisles. Today a teenager slinks past, just a boy, with a pushed up nose and soft cheeks that make him look like a piglet. His hair falls around his shoulders in greasy, brown ringlets, sitting on the shoulders of an oversize camouflage jacket. He’s wearing jeans and combat boots, and he isn’t carrying a basket.

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Meeting Ethel

As I attempt to meet my 2014 resolution of writing (more/at all) I’ve turned to the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge for help. Last week’s was Collecting Detail and I’ve decided to drag an old piece out of the draft file to help jump start my goal. Cheers!

I am following signs through a winding series of corridors that point to the “Women’s Cafeteria.” Outside, in a valley between hospital buildings, everything exposed is still wet from the torrential rain that has just subsided. After finding the room my orders were to “get your grandmother coffee” and a passing nurse, when asked, instructs me to “turn right and follow the signs.” I’m told that the coffee is free, but it couldn’t possibly matter, I wouldn’t dare to return without it, regardless of the price. The idea of a “Women’s Cafeteria” has me thinking about some strange world wherein men and women are formally separated, as through the days of the parlor and drawing room had never passed, but instead evolved into female-only eating rooms in hospitals.

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