Snippets: Three and Two, Green and Blue

August 26, 2009

He listened to the chiming bells as another customer entered the shop, and instictively moved farther from the door, making sure he wouldn’t be in her way. The scents of smoke and gasoline followed them into the shop, only adding to the stale air within, already filled with the flavors of countless passerby – truck drivers, working moms, lotto-seekers and all.

The chimes were brief, and then there was silence, broken again by a woman’s voice as the new customer ordered cigarettes at the front of the shop. He shrunk further away, towards the cool hum of the refrigerators. His eyes caught on one drink – Diet Tangerine, of some strange brand he didn’t recognize – and he remembered drinking it before, and it tasting like melting popsicles, and that pleased him. So he selected one plastic bottle and moved on.

In the second row from the back of the store, he chose five cartons of razorblades. He chose three with green packaging, and two with blue packaging. They were otherwise the same, but it took him just over four minutes to make that choice.

By then, the other customer had paid and left, and he shuffled over to the front of the store.

He placed his purchases on the counter. When the cashier smiled and greeted him, he look down and mumbled half a sentence at the ground. He felt this was rude, and cleared his throat, and tried to look up at the lady, and was just about able to do so.

Her voice was that of a young girl, though he couldn’t judge that by her appearance. Not that it was unusual to anyone save for him – but the disparate elements he saw, they did not come together to form a complete image, to provide enough information to judge her age. He saw pale blond hair and smooth skin and downcast eyes, and knew they formed a person – but nothing more.

Searching for something to say, as the cashier rang up his purchase, he announced, “I’m not buying razorblades.”

 She paused, looking down at the green package in her hand, and then back at him. “Oh – I’m sorry, sir. Was there something else you were looking for?”

He shook his head. “No, I, I mean, I am not paying you money to buy razorblades. I am accepting razorblades so I can give you money. You see?”

She clearly did not. She asked if he wanted her to cancel the purchase, but he shook his head, staring back down at the ground. Stupid, stupid! he thought, knowing that if he said anything more, she would only become more unsettled. Or angry. Or frightened. It all made sense in his head, the words lined up perfectly – and they still seemed logical to him when he spoke, even as they confused everyone else. It was not fair. It was not just.

The door opened again with a chime, and this time brought in the scent of the chill air, frost crisp upon the winter breeze. He shivered, as he dug through his pocket for the money he needed, and the right amount of change.

He couldn’t remember why he had come here, and he wanted to be home.

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