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He couldn’t believe he was back in the tiny little fart on the map that he used to call his hometown.  He hated it there, all those wide-open spaces and people who always, always seemed to know who you were and had to slap a person on the back and say how great it was to see everyone.  They even acted like it was all right to be happy to see people they may have tormented, as if time erases the fact that a person was a total asshole for four years.

His parents lived on the outskirts, and they’d asked him to travel into town and get something at the store.  They didn’t understand that he was not in the mood to run into anybody, the time wasn’t right.  His wife had only been gone a few months, and he was still grieving.  The last thing he needed or wanted right now was some moron from his past acting like they long lost buddies when all he really wanted to do was punch them all in the eye.  They were only extra glad to see him because of his minor success, nobody really cared how he was or why he was here, they were hoping the same might slide off and they’d get some kind of lightning in a bottle too.

The meetings were sometimes hard on him, because he never recognized anyone, why should he make an effort to remember people that he didn’t want to know anymore.  He’d have to rush through the store, get what was needed, and get out fast, hoping that his hat pulled down and not talking to anyone would work.

At least he’d only have to bear a few minutes of this place and than he’d be safe back in his comfort zone with his parents.  Walking the aisles with a sense of rapid desperate need to escape, he bumped into a few deer in the headlights types that wander into the way of people with a purpose.  He mumbled a few apologies and was on his way, leaving them in his wake like chum washed beyond the mouth of an angry whale.

Finally, he had the stuff he’d been banished to buy and headed towards the register bank, where of course, they were all full of people.  Morey eels that attached to a person’s back while they stood in line, trying to avoid any and all contact with the rabble, but still they managed to get close enough to breathe on the neck of poor soul in front of them with no regard for personal space.  He shuddered in anticipation of wading in amongst them and biding his time until someone snapped and ended the throng’s long day in commerce captivity.

He was close to giving in and taking his place in hell when a voice called to him from the lottery counter, “I can help you over here Rob.”

He rolled his eyes, another person who wanted to glad-hand him after his big break, but at least this one had a sense of helping him in his day, that is getting him out of this place faster without having to be in the middle of the sheep.  He strode over to the counter and slammed his things down with an urgency and rage at needing to be here.  The woman said hello almost as if she expected him to throw his things at her, he held back on that particular urge and nodded back without actively engaging her.

While she rang up and then bagged his purchases, he kept catching her stealing glances at him, and something about her rang in his mind.  He felt like he should remember her, but he had a good block up for this town and the people he’d emerged from that he couldn’t place her.  From under the bill of his cap, he watched her do her job, the jaw line that was strong but not prominent.  The mouth with thin lips that formed a kind of nice little quirk of a smile.  Dark grey eyes that almost smoked even as she shyly tried not to stare at him.  He was almost at the point of bringing her out of the fog he’d hidden all these people behind when she spoke again, “That’ll be $24.37, is paper ok?  We ran out of plastic earlier.”

He nodded assent that paper would be fine, agitated that she had interrupted his musing about her at the worst possible time.  It was just as well, probably only another person wanting an autograph or to get close to fame.  He was always better off when these encounters ended faster, and now he was at the point of needing to get out of the store.  There was some slack jaw crowding him from behind, leaning sideways trying to see what he’d bought.

He’d finally paid and was on his way out the door when he heard her sweet voice following him, “Nice seeing you Rob, enjoy your night.”

He did not acknowledge her, but it made him feel different from the usual times when people talked to him.  Maybe she didn’t want to rub against fame, maybe she was being genuine. 

That was it!  Genuine, her name was Genny, with a G, and he’d always called her his genuine because she was so sweet and meaningful, never one to fall into the hustle and bustle of the nameless crowd. 

He remembered that they had almost gotten together, but then he’d met his first wife, and then his second wife, and then he’d hit it big, and forgotten all about this town.

He remembered how pretty she looked when she laughed, and how warm and full her hugs were.  It also brought back to mind how she was someone worth remembering, rising above the mob of worthless nobodies that had not thought ahead and seen anything in anyone that wasn’t popular.

He turned on his heel and went back into the store to talk to her.


From → Shorts

One Comment
  1. I like this story, it made me smile IRL.

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