The following short story is a work of fiction. It is based off a photographic writing prompt submitted by Writer’s Digest. I do not know if my story will be selected, but I had fun writing it. Here it is for your reading pleasure. Constructive feedback is welcomed and encouraged. Thanks for reading.
TRIP TO THE GROCERY STORE
By Judie Lynne
Old people typically don’t get involved in amateur games. Yet, here I am, just another elderly person taking his frustrations out on the world. Personally, my time is limited, and tomorrow is never promised. Therefore, I choose to take it out on the miracle of the high tide. I want Audra to hear what I have to say.
A trip to the grocery store was all it took to force me out of my cocoon. A woman with a perfected mane of white and silvers captivated me at the express checkout lane. I’ve seen her before, but I’ve never struck up the courage to concoct even the simplest greeting. Hauntings of my dear Audra intermittently surface, looking at me from above the clouds with a modest wave and an air kiss. She would want me to continue living my life, but when you have spent over 40 years with the same person, they are your entire life. But I challenge myself to move on with a brave face and a kind heart, because she would want me to be at peace.
Lately, striking up conversations with cashiers have been challenging. It seems that the store has made some cutbacks in payroll because there are only two express cashiers working on a busier-than-usual Saturday morning. As a result, there have been stalls in the express lanes that increased the waiting times. One day, I recognized the woman in the line next to me and thought that would be a good time to break out of my sheath, as well as to ease any tension lingering in the air. I turned to her and gave her a gentle smile:
“Good thing I wore my comfy slip-ons today.” I said, with caution.
“Yeah, they must be short-staffed today. The lines aren’t usually long this early in the day.”
An ice breaker…yes! Since I captured her attention, I figured to keep the momentum going. After every couple of sentences, the line from both lanes moved forward a couple of inches. In a short time, we discussed weather, cost of living, and retirement. I sensed that she was feeling less threatened and was comfortable enough to continue the conversation elsewhere. We decided to exchange information after checkout.
She was first to complete her purchase. I was one person behind her, and luckily, I only had a few items to purchase. Once done, I met up with her again at the entrance. She gave me another courteous smile, and handed me a piece of paper with an address that wasn’t familiar to me. I thought it was a bit odd, but I didn’t want to come off as a braggart, so I didn’t question her.
We agreed to meet again later that evening, at an oceanside café I’ve never heard of before. I figured it must be a relatively new business. After all, I don’t really get out much after Audra passed. I was ready to start living again. As I was getting dressed, my gaze shifted to one of my favorite photos of Audra, and I reflect…. she was clapping for me from above the heavens.
Due to the unfamiliarity of GPS, I parked the car near our meeting place, and decided to search for it on foot.
Over an hour past the designated time of meeting, and I still can’t find the place. By now, I am getting winded from both anxiety and fatigue. How can I possibly justify this embarrassing this period of senility, if and when we finally meet? I decided to bow down to my embarrassment and ask a passerby where this café is located.
“Oh, they closed up last year. They’re no longer in business.”
I decided to take my frustrations out on Audra in a spiritual sense, who I suspect was behind this cruel joke. I muttered under my breath, over the reconciling auditory raptures of the high tide. Oh Audra, how can you be so cruel? A discreet tide surfaced upon my bare feet seconds after my muttering. I looked up to the horizon with light tears. Even in death, I cannot stay mad at my Audra.