“Ummm … Is this the line to … umm the line to … get the …”
“Uhh yeah, it’s right here.”
“Oh ok yeah, I’ve just never done this before.”
The line, clusters of friends and family standing together but avoiding strangers, moved up one group.
“Yeah me neither.”
“Oh no I didn’t mean to say you have. I just was saying … it’s just that I’m … I don’t usually …” She nervously twisted a gold necklaces around her index and middle fingers. Then she thumbed the pendant draped over her light blue collared shirt. She wore a rose colored cardigan draped over her shoulders and flats.
Another group moved up.
“No, I hear you. I’m just saying I’ve never done this before either.”
He looked away, towards the head of the line. He shifted his weight to his left foot and stretched out his neck to look for any movement ahead in line. She glanced at him, his Sternocleidomastoid muscle bulged out, stretching the skin taut between his clavicle and ear. His figure rippled through his tight black and white striped t-shirt. And his leg muscles strained under his short peach colored shorts. She blushed and looked away quickly.
After a moment she looked back, “You don’t need to be … I mean this is a … and I’m not …”
He looked back as he grounded his weight back between both feet. He laughed lightly and looked down at his feet. He picked his head up and looked her in the eye for a moment. She shifted her head back on her vertebrae and squeezed her shoulders in making herself slightly smaller. He let her sit in her shame for a moment and then said, “Naw they take all kinds.”
The line moved.
“Oh … are you … umm do you belong … to …”
“Naw,” he said looking her in the eye. His eyes shimmered with a disarming grin. “Used to be I guess. Used to come here with my Grandma when I was a kid, but I stopped with she died. Didn’t feel really right anymore, you know?”
“Yeah, I get that. My grandparents made me go to church too. Said it would keep the family together. And then … well, we don’t need to go into what happened really. But I haven’t gone back. Sometimes I think maybe I should. Maybe it’d be good for me, but … well, you know. Um … do you know about how long?”
“No,” he said looking back up at the front of the line. “Like I said, haven’t ever been to something like this before.”
The line moved up.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Of course. I just can’t think straight since all this. I lost my job and I’m used to a certain lifestyle and now I’m here.”
“Brave New World.”
“Brave New? … knowwhat nevermind. Lost my business. Now I’m in this economy, excuse me, we’re in this economy. Looking for anything.”
The line moved up one group as a family walked out caring bags.
“You owned your own business?”
“Oh … no, no, no … I mean it’s just that … no, you’re just so young.”
“Yeah everybody says so. I had a clothing company. Young industry. We handstitched everything, like my grandma taught me. Just started giving out clothing to the homeless too, before … all this.” He held his hands out wide “Got to help out where you can. Grandma always told me he would have wanted it.” He jerked his head towards the building and laughed big and deep.
She stood silent for a moment and then laughed nervously into her hand. After a moment she laughed louder and longer than she meant to.
“What do you do? I mean … I guess … what did you do.” He said tripping over his words slightly.
A father holding his son in one arm and three plastic bags bulging and over packed in the other opened the door with his back. They both wore masks. He walked through the line carefully avoiding getting to close to anyone else.
“I was a lawyer. Went to school, passed the bar, found a job with a group that I really liked, and got to practice a whole 18 months. Corporate law. Not exactly glamorous but my dad did it so I did it. You know how it is.”
“Yeah.” He smiled. “I know how that is.”
A woman holding three brown paper bags clutched to her chest, tried to open the swinging glass door. He opened the door and held it for her and then walked in himself. Then he turned around and smiled and said, “Good talking with you.”
She nodded and then felt silly and held her arms to herself. She clutched her shoulder with her left hand and lowered her chin slowly to her breast bone. She nervously swung her shoulders back and forth.
The man came out holding two brown paper bags and a small plastic bag. He smiled a slight smile out of the corner of his mouth and said, “Not so bad. Your turn.” He held the door with the back of his foot for her to walk in.
She went in a knot of a person, still clutching her shoulder, still chin hanging low. A shorter woman wearing a surgical mask and a face shield greeted her warmly. “Welcome, we have the basics available. We also have fruit and vegetables and meat if you eat it.” She pointed with her whole hand to the bags arranged on the plastic card table laid out in front of her. “We also have other services, check-ups on Tuesdays and Thursdays and of course you are always welcome to come in for prayer on Friday. Although it is not required for you to receive our services.” She spoke with practiced precision.
“Thank you so much. Stay safe.” She said as she picked up the three brown paper bags in front of her and walked towards the door.
“Thank you, you as well. Peace be with you.”
“Oh … um … thanks … uh thank you.” she said as she backed out the swinging glass door. She turned into the afternoon sun and staired down the line as it snaked down the path and down the street and around the corner and beyond the buildings blocking her view.