Colette placed her groceries on the conveyor belt, trying to tune out the emotions and auras of the people around her. She put the heavier items first – cans, frozen veggies, then the medium weight – fresh veggies and fruits. She put the eighteen-count brown eggs last, hoping the bag boy would appreciate her organizational skills while she wondered -- wasn’t it strange that a bag boy is acceptable role in life, but a bag lady isn’t?
The elderly woman in front of Colette whispered to the young woman at her side, “Show time,”
The young woman rolled her head and drew in a fierce breath. “I bought this skirt over six years ago and every time I wear it, you tell me you need to hem it. It is not too long. I like it this length. I don’t want you to hem it, and I am sick to death of you disguising your criticisms as offers to improve my life.”
In the ensuing store-wide silence, the bag boy hesitantly asked, “Paper or plastic?”
She glanced away from the older woman and addressed the older man bagging her groceries. “Paper.”
Very few bag boys are teenagers, Colette tried to block out her random observation.
“If I think you have legs that are worth showing off, who am I – I’m just your mother.”
“I have fat legs. They are obese. I like long skirts.”
The ‘bag boy’ smirked at the teen running the register; both seemed to agree that the middle-aged woman was obese and some legs are better off left hidden.
“You know, some men like a woman with a bit of weight on her. If you wouldn’t dress like a refugee from some gypsy camp, you might find yourself a man.”
The bagger plunked a thin plastic bag filled to bursting with cans into their cart. “I asked for paper,” the middle-aged woman snapped.
“We’re out of paper.”
“Then why did you ask me which one I preferred?”
“We could use a man around the house. I’m sick to death of watching you being my yard nigger.”
“Hey!” The cashier growled.
“I’m so sorry.” The woman handed him cash. “My mother was raised when that word was common.”
Colette’s cashier rolled his eyes heavenward.
A young man in a huge cowboy hat turned from Customer Service, flaming orange surrounded him. An orange aura indicates energy and excitement. But this man slouched calmly away. For a second his and Colette’s eyes met. A sense of déjà vu trilled through her.
“There is nothing wrong with the word nigger. And gay is a perfectly good word, too.”
The daughter had the mother by the arm and crossed between Colette and the cowboy.
“Why are they stealing all of our words?”
A bell rang. People looked at each other accusingly. Whose annoying cell phone is that? But the bell increased in pitch and volume and all the cashiers crouched down under their registers.
The cowboy had disappeared, as had the mother-daughter pair. A woman in Customer Service was shouting. Colette realized she had begun shouting at the same time the alarm went off.
Follow the Bees
© Evelyn Rainey
Available for publication.