Sunday, November 17, 2013

Prompt: Is it you, or is it me?

Just a quick stop at the grocery store – and the Starbucks inside. That’s what I thought as I pulled in the crowded parking lot. Sunday afternoon – I guess people were stocking up for the week ahead. I wondered if I should check the forecast. Were they predicting snow?

I shrugged into my coat to ward off the bite of the winter wind that rushed around my ears and across the back of my neck. The whoosh of warm air as the doors slid open was a welcome relief from even that short walk outside.

Fortified with a tall eggnog latte, my favorite holiday indulgence, I picked up a basket and stood in the produce section, re-organizing my mental list to the store layout. I’ve worked hard to move to a healthier diet, and most of my shopping is around the edges these days: produce, dairy, eggs and cheese.

I could make it in one pass in about 15 minutes is I lined up my list and didn’t forget anything. A little mental puzzle I liked to challenge myself with. Grocery shopping being one of the most boring chores on the planet, this was my small way of making it interesting, or at least tolerable.

I had just made it all the way around and was checking out the bakery goods, tempting myself with a treat, when I saw Jaspreet pushing a cart down the aisle toward me. She works in finance, and I’m in research, so I don’t see her all the time, but Phoenix is a small enough shop that you get to know everybody.

“Hey, Jaspreet,” I said, walking straight toward her. She didn’t seem to hear me. I thought maybe she had earbuds on, but there was no sign. I stepped in front of her cart, and she pulled back, startled. She looked straight at me without a flicker of recognition.

“Hey…Jaspreet?” I said again, confused. She still acted like she didn’t hear me, didn’t recognize me at all. She drew the cart back and walked around me as if I were a store display. I was so shocked and confused, I just stood there and watched her turn down the frozen cases and disappear.

Shaking my head, I continued to the checkout. What the heck? I mean, sometimes I don’t recognize people out of context, but that was really weird. Beyond the pale. And rude!

I was beginning to stew as I pulled my items from the basket and they rolled along the counter to the cashier. I mean, it’s not like we’re lunch buddies or anything, but honest to Pete, we’ve worked together for what, three years now? And I called her by name! What was her problem?

I punched in my discount card id number and slid my credit card through the machine while the cashier was bagging my groceries. Her computer beeped, and she jumped. Literally jumped with surprise, like someone had goosed her. What is wish people today?

She looked at her console and her skin paled. She flicked her eyes over to me and back to the console. What did it say? Come on, lady, I have to get home.

“Excuse me, ma’am. May I see your card, please?”

“Sure. Did it not go through?”

“I…I need to take it over to my manager for a moment. I’ll be right back.”

She was gone before I could say anything. Oh great. Probably some random bag check or something. Just my luck. Here she is, coming back…with a manager…and a very large police officer…

I looked around, feeling confused and suddenly very nervous. What was going on?
Dogs in house

Time writing:
~25 minutes

October word count:

1 comment:

  1. Prompt: Is it you, or is it me?

    I reached across my notes to flip the page of the textbook and caught sight of my watch. Damn! I was late!

    I turned the flip into a slam-and-slide, using the textbook as a shovel to push my notebook into my bookbag, following with the text. Zip up, strap across one shoulder, sleeve of my jumper pulled up to another, and I was on my way out of the library.

    “Helen, what the hell?” Jason called after me as I raced down the steps past him.

    “Late for Prof Wilkes,” I said, but could not help turning to look as I spoke. I knew it was a mistake before my running right foot landed on air instead of stair, and then I was falling, tumbling – elbow, shoulder, chin, side, bum, bum, bum. I slid to a stop on my seat four steps from the bottom.

    “You okay?” Jason was beside me, looking all handsome and concerned. Why was he heading into the library? He has physics lab the same time I did, and he was more of a nerd than I was. He definitely wouldn’t want to come under the famous Wilkes scrutiny.

    I rubbed my chin. “Fithn,” I slurred. I worked my jaw and tried again. “Fine.”

    “I don’t know,” Jason said. “That looked pretty...dramatic.” I wondered what adjective he had swallowed there. I’d dreamed of a nice, private conversation with Jason, but this wasn’t quite how it had gone. He reached for my hand, which still covered my cheek. My heart skipped a beat. “And your poor jaw, on top of the bruise you had at practical today...”

    I stared at him. “I’m just heading to practical.”

    He wrinkled his forehead. “I just came from practical. You had a massive bruise...“ He tugged my hand away from my face. “...right where you’ve got that red bit now.”

    Time writing: 20 min