Too Many Pineapples

Submitted by Rachel Frankki to Contest #20 in response to: Write a story about a character experiencing anxiety.... view prompt

You think it can’t get any worse? This consistent feeling of anxiety that harbors your soul? I’m just standing in the produce section of my local grocery store; and all I can think about the difficulty of choosing the right pineapple for my mom’s fruit salad. I mean, she’s the one making this damn salad, why did she have to wake me up from my nap just so I could go buy it? I never buy fruit, what if I get one that’s not ripe yet but then it gets forgotten about and becomes moldy? Or one that’s too moldy and my mom shuns me? It’s like my membership to the family is resting on this one tiny ingredient. A salad everyone loves of course. I can see people staring at me. Disgusted looks from soccer mom’s and vegans. Probably wondering why there’s a weirdo beginning to sweat while they stare at the pineapples in confusion. 

“Excuse me miss, do you need help choosing one?” An old employee pointed to the fruit. I shivered. Most likely not from the drafty front doors of the building, but rather because someone had the balls to point out my ridiculousness. That was her job though, wasn’t it? Call out the idiot who can't choose a pineapple?

“Oh no, I’m fine thanks,” I lied through a wide smile that I hoped sounded completely genuine. Of course I needed help, but was I going to admit that to a stranger who reeked of mothballs and perfume that smelled straight from the 1970's? Hell no. I’d rather choose the moldiest pineapple.

I must not have been very convincing, however, because she gave me a reproachful look and said, “Okay well other shoppers have pointed out that you’ve been standing here for ten minutes now. Are you aware of that?”

Shit. Had I really been here for ten full minutes already? If I hadn’t forgotten my phone at home I could easily call my mom, and ask what to look for in a good pineapple but I had forgotten it in haste to leave the house. A haste to leave that translates to her telling me she needed this fruit to make her in-laws like her again after her failed Thanksgiving feast. 

“Yes, I’m perfectly aware. There’s just so many decisions to choose from, you know?”

“Sure,” She gave me a tight lipped smile and walked away whispering into her walkie-talkie. Probably telling her boss that there’s a psychopath eyeballing each and every pineapple without moving. I watched her walk through the flap doors to the backroom before I realized there was a kid standing by my side now. Jesus, can’t anyone let a woman be while she makes a damn decision?

“My mommy says fruit makes you scared and that’s why your standing by it,” The pipsqueak said. I gave a disgusted look as the mom quickly snatched up her child and tried to make apologies. If the unamusement was plastered on my face, then that goal was achieved. Too bad the mom had stuffed him back into the cart and walked away or I’d have gone off on them both. 

Fruit doesn’t make me scared! The unknowing feeling of what to get and what to do as exemplified by a simple choice, that’s what scares me. Imagine if I had gone up to that kid and said, hey pipsqueak you like dinosaurs? Well guess what, that must mean you want death like they died

Too bad this isn’t being filmed or I’d look into the camera like I’m on the Office. All these pineapples are starting to look the same! They’re all a foot long with thorns and leaves on the top. What if the grocery store is just messing with me and they’re actually all good and meant for instant consumption? Wait, isn’t that how groceries are meant to work? But what if they’re all bad, and I’m just a fool for not realizing that? 

The grumpy employee was back. Standing on the other side of the pineapple stand with a stern expression on her face. What if she kicked me out for being indecisive, and I came home empty handed? Forget any future nap, I’d be working all hours of the day to support myself. I looked up at her with my eyebrows raised. She raised hers back. This was clearly going to be a good old fashioned standoff. 

“Just take one,” She grimaced. “Any of them, and walk away. You can even have it for free.”

“Oh you think I’m just some poor person who wants free things?”

“No, I just want you to leave the goddamn store! I mean you’re standing here doing nothing but staring at a bunch of fruit!”

“Well that’s not very friendly from someone whose name tag says, “Ask me questions! I know things!””

“My name tag is meant to help people, I’m trying to help you.”

“I don’t need help.”

“Do you realize that I’m being paid to be here whereas you’re standing here not getting paid? Your wasting your time, dear.”

“I’m trying to figure out which one will be the best one for my fruit salad.”

“The best one? Definitely this one,” She grabbed a random pineapple and shoved it into my arms. With a firm grip on the back of my jacket, she shoved me out of the store, into the cold. I could have sworn I heard her mutter and stay out! 

The pineapple in my arms looked decent, but it still could have been the worst one. I guess the only way to find out was to go back to my mom, so she would decide whether or not it was good. I guess if it wasn’t, I’d feed it to the squirrels or something. 

When I got home, my mom asked me what took so long, to which I held the pineapple above my arms like a trophy. She laughed, and said she found some pineapple chunks in the back of a cupboard so she didn't need it anymore.

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2 likes 1 comment

18:35 Dec 26, 2019

This story confused me a bit. I can't imagine a grocery store worker getting aggravated at a customer for deliberating for 10 minutes. Trying to help yes, getting aggravated no. That much anxiety over a pineapple by a young person is hard to believe too. But then they do overreact too. The writing was strong and suited to the storyteller. Development was very good with a good premise and a solid beginning, middle and end. And as with most anxiety, totally unnecessary as the mother had found another solution.


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