The tile was dirty, held down with yellowing glue in some places. The aisles were too narrow and the shelves were too tall. Carts and families couldn’t both fit comfortably in any configuration in any aisle except the bread aisle. The music over the speakers grated on his nerves. He tried grabbing toilet paper, diapers — what size again? How do I read this damn box? — as quickly as his anxiety allowed him to and rushed around a sharp corner to head towards the ice box freezers with white cartons and containers filled with white contents. He came to…

He paced back and forth. Swish thud, swish thud, swish thud, swish thud. Minute by minute his matte gray beard grew longer. He felt the hairs growing on his face. His foot scraped against the floor’s rough wood grain.

The waves crashed and sang an eerie tune in the background. His bare foot shuffled and dragged and his crutch thudded its own beat as he stumbled to the small industrial kitchen. A cave in the back rounded corner of the lonely lighthouse, the kitchen felt off-limits the way 2nd base always felt off-limits with Alice. He drove her away. He…

Brandi Purchas

USAF combat vet, lover of words and stories, grateful.

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