Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"We Were the Last" (part i)

Cathleen peered over the counter at the woman thumbing through a beauty magazine. She peered at the woman's fingernails: glitter-green shellac, long. She peered at the woman's face: puffy lips, puffy cheeks, painted eyebrows thick-brown and arched. She peered at the woman's clothes: a tight, loud-patterned dress snuggled over rounded tummy, thick arms. Cathleen cleared her throat once.

Down two aisles and to the left, Cathleen's sister Carrie peered at the rows of toy, wooden furniture. Carrie was small and impatient and hyper-intelligent. She pulled out her smartphone and sent a text.

To: Cathleen
have u asked yet?

Cathleen received the text at the exact moment that the woman behind the counter looked up.

Ping, said her phone.

"Can I help you?" said the woman.

"Um," said Cathleen. She peered down at her phone. She peered back up at the woman, who seemed taller suddenly.

"Do you have. . . ." she paused. She could imagine Carrie two aisles over, all ears, straining in anticipation of the woman's reply.

"Do you have. . . ."

"What I don't have is all day, kid," said the woman.

"My mom said. . . ." No, that was wrong. "I mean. I meant to - I wanted to ask about the - if you have - "

Ping, said Cathleen's phone. It was Carrie, again. It said, how about now?

"I needed to see about the transferents?" Cathleen said, hurried breath rushing out. The woman blinked at her. Maybe she doesn't know? Cathleen thought. Maybe we came to the wrong place?

"Whoa," said the woman. It was her turn to peer, down at the little girl on the other side of her counter. The girl's eyes were normal-sized, and her hair was light brown, and she wore plain enough clothes. But she'd just asked about transferents.

Just then, Carrie appeared and walked to the counter to join her sister. Whoa, thought the woman again. Another one. And they looked exactly alike, too.

"Excuse me," said Carrie. Carrie looked over at her sister, as if to say, sorry, but you were taking too long. She turned back to the woman. "We're here about the transferents. Emily and Timothy? They were sent on Monday."

The woman gaped.

"Who sent you?" she asked the pair standing in front of her. In response, Carrie reached into her back pocket and pulled out her phone. She tapped the screen for a moment and then held it up to the woman. On the screen was a series of letters followed by a code, symbol, and digital voice activator.

"Oh," said the woman.

In response, the phone lit up, and began to dial a number. The woman's face fell.

"No - " she began to say.

Carrie shrugged, as if to say, sorry, but you were taking too long.

Monday, November 10, 2014

a pair of speakers, and i buy myself my own groceries and bring them to my own home, and listen to "towers" on repeat, and talk with my roommate and talk to her sweet dog too.

the woman looked me in the eye, and leaned in, and lowered her voice. "i wish you - what i wish you. is. peace, and harmony." she really looked at me. she so sincerely thanked me. called me by my name. "i really mean it," she said, hoping i'd know, and i knew, even without her saying that.

shooting the shit in the break room, out on the floors. "why does everybody give you such a hard time?" the one asked, and i just laughed, and laughed.