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General

It began at the moment I turned the corner of the dry goods section, peered down the bread aisle, and was baffled by the sight of a baby lying bundled up in blankets on the floor.

No, that’s not a good place to start. Alliteration aside.

It began at the moment I strode into the supermarket to pick up one of those frozen apple blossom pastries, when I saw that everyone who had been previously milling around in there, with that disinterested mill of a dedicated Walmart shopper, was turning an abrupt about-face and walking quickly out, emotionlessly shoving past me like they didn’t see me. Or didn’t want me to see them. The wind of their collected speed blew my hair straight up.

No, that’s not a good place to start either.

It began at the moment I was getting into my car, with the idea of heading towards the supermarket to pick up one of those frozen apple blossom pastries, when I noticed that the sky, which was the shade of an angry Olympian god, was ejecting small flurries of what might have been disobedient children on banishment from Olympus; that is to say, it was snowing.

No, that’s not the beginning either.

I suppose it began at the moment my mind put forward for discussion the idea that I head to the store to pick up one of those frozen apple blossom pastries. I was on the phone with my aunt, with the attention span of a disinterested Walmart miller, and she had just gotten to, “you need help, son” when I realized that I wanted to pick up one of those frozen apple blossom pastries.

“I’m sorry, aunt,” I said urgently. “An emergency just came up. I’ll have to hang up on you immediately.”

“Aunt? I’m your thera-”

I hung up on her immediately. She was probably about to say a bad word anyway.

I put on a scarf but no coat, because coats are for the birds, and headed out the door. I locked it behind me and stuck the key in the ceramic frog’s mouth as usual.

Then I frolicked down the driveway to my car, and that, dear reader, is how I found myself getting into my car, with the idea of headings towards the supermarket to pick up one of those frozen apple blossom pastries, when I noticed that the sky, which was the shade of an angry Olympian god, was ejecting small flurries of what might have been disobedient children on banishment from Olympus; that is to say, it was snowing.

I removed my car keys from under the frog bobblehead on the dashboard and started the ignition. My aunt has often criticized me for leaving my car keys in the car all the time.

“It’s the only logical course of action,” I explain, “The car keys should stay with the car.”

“Then how will you get into it?” she asks.

“I leave it unlocked.”

“That’s unsafe! Anyone could steal your car.”

Ah, but she doesn’t seem to understand what I know, which is that how could anyone trying to steal my expensive car know that the keys were under the frog bobblehead? They couldn’t, and that’s a fact.

As I drove and the frog bobblehead - or as I affectionately mentally term him when we are alone, the frogglehead - bobbled, the small flurries of what might have been disobedient children on banishment from Olympus; that is the say, the snow, thickened.

(Perhaps you are confused right now. Perhaps you don’t understand what I am trying to convey to you. All I can say is pay attention to the punctuation and always start by finding the subject.)

Well, the snow thickened and thickened and ultimately got so thick that it looked like my Tesla was the Millennium Falcon at light speed, except the space behind the white dots was also white, instead of black like in Star Wars, so actually it just looked like my Tesla was driving into a snow drift. Which it very well may have been, for all I knew.

But somehow or other I found myself in the Walmart parking lot. I got out, struggling to open the door against the wind, and somehow or other reached the doors and pushed my way inside.

And that, dear reader, is how I found myself striding into the supermarket to pick up one of those frozen apple blossom pastries, to see that everyone who had been previously milling around in there, with that disinterested mill of a dedicated Walmart shopper, was turning an abrupt about-face and walking quickly out, emotionlessly shoving past me like they didn’t see me. Or didn’t want me to see them. The wind of their collected speed blew my hair straight up.

Which was slightly strange, seeing as they would be much safer to weather the blizzard inside a nice warm secure Walmart than out on the unpaved roads. It was almost like they were running away from something. But since they were running into a blizzard, whatever they were running away from inside the store had to be pretty terrifying, or at least pretty inconveniencing.

However, not unduly put out, I began making my way towards the back of the store and the frozen goods section.

Halfway to the back of the store I heard a noise. Now, you probably already know what this noise was, or you think you do, since I started this story the wrong way. But actually, it’s not what you think.

I heard the wind. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but I had never heard it like this before. The wind didn’t just "howl."

It moaned.

It sobbed.

It reproached.

It pleaded.

It wrapped itself around the empty Walmart building and cried for mercy. It made me feel very small, and alone. If the wind was like that, what were we?

I stopped for a moment and wrapped my arms around myself and crouched near to the ground and tried to hide and pretend that nothing bigger than myself could see me. After a bit, the wind died.

And then, I kept walking.

And that’s how I found myself turning the corner of the dry goods section. I peered down the bread aisle, and was baffled by the sight of a baby lying bundled up in blankets on the floor.

That’s right. A baby. Little red face, like you used to have. Bundled in raggedy blankets. Lying on the floor of the supermarket.

It was quiet. I didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I took a step towards it, then stopped. I would pick it up, but it’s too much trouble. And then I realized, that’s what they were all running away from. Responsibility. Too much trouble.

Well.

What would you do?

July 29, 2020 19:58

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6 comments

Roshna Rusiniya
04:50 Jul 30, 2020

Oh! I love frog bobblehead! And I absolutely love the way you ended the story! Beautiful!

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12:48 Jul 30, 2020

Thanks so much! Do you have any suggestions for changing the name? I don't really think this one fits.

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Roshna Rusiniya
13:57 Jul 30, 2020

You are welcome:) Since you asked me, I would say this title doesn’t fit. If I were in your place, I would choose the ending line as the title. ‘ what would you do?’

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14:53 Jul 30, 2020

Okay, thanks! I'll do that. :)

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Roshna Rusiniya
19:42 Jul 30, 2020

That was so sweet of you to choose the title I suggested! Would you also check mine when you get time? Thanks!

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01:00 Jul 31, 2020

Well, it was a better title. :) And sure!

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