So here I am walking to the store for necessities and feeling rather proud of myself for unearthing the warm coat I bought years back while living on the prairies. It was tucked away in my mother’s old cedar chest along with games of Life and Scruples. I needn’t have worried about finding the woolen headband after all. The sun is warm and there is no wind off the water today.
I do wonder about the cost of things though. The store I’ve chosen is closer but the prices are higher. Sudden yapping to my right breaks my train of thought. It’s a wee dog no bigger than my boot, all puffed up, racing back and forth across the lawn at the end of his tether. One of these days, I should stop quietly in front of the house until he learns he has nothing to fear from me. But not today.
I’m around the corner, passing the volunteer fire hall. Now Hiring is scrawled in black marker across a sheet of neon-orange bristol board taped to the front window. You know, I really should have my camera with me when I’m out and about like this. The eagle grabbing a fish from the water, dripping in gold light. Pelicans landing together in a vast inshore lake, necks entwined, wings spread against the sun. If I’d had my camera, I could have shared some of these things with you. But perhaps not. Being a witness to such things can’t be captured by anything but memory or possibly through a painting. I’m feeling a bit lighter as that slice of regret slides away.
The store isn’t much further. A block or two has slipped past during my woolgathering. Yes, they appear to be open. The mesh window guards are pulled back and a sign is taped to the door. It reads Now in bold black marker. There must have been a sale on neon bristol board somewhere.
Now Open. I see someone has been creative with the lettering and formed the word Open, well, openly. Block letters are formed in outline only. Before I can cross the parking lot and open the door, the other woman who lives in my head steps out from the shadows of my synapses.
“No one can see that part of the sign. What were they thinking?” She has a tone I don’t like.
“It doesn’t matter. You’d have to be a moron not to know the rest anyway,” I say back at her. “Someone took the time to make it nice so just shut up.”
I’m opening the door and a faint scent of smoke greets me.
A woman with dark, curly hair emerges from the back room.
“Did they catch them yet?” I ask her.
“Yes. They were just kids but I don’t remember the names.”
I veer towards the back of the store and pick up the bread first. No prices are posted. I grab cream for my coffee and stop by the cooler up front to grab some eggs before plunking everything down at the cash register. I watch the numbers tabulate as she rings up the purchase.
Bread is $1 more than the store at the other end of the street. Cream and eggs are $2 more. The other woman inside me is smirking.
“You paid $3 for being too lazy to walk another half kilometer.”
I don’t answer her. Instead, I thank the woman at the counter and leave the store with my little bag of goodies. Once outside, the smirking becomes rather more derisive so I decide to take her on once and for all.
“Imagine,” I whisper, “there is magic afoot.”
The woman inside my head is intrigued now and listening.
“A young sprite is here with an offer to nip down to the other store, pick up the cheaper bread and eggs, and be back in less than the blink of an eye. It will save me the walk and he’ll do it for a $3 tip.”
The smirk disappears. “That sounds reasonable,” she concedes.
“That’s what happened. Magic.” I say this with confidence.
She seems satisfied with my answer and goes back to her place in my head. I realize for the first time that she’s just looking for recognition and needs something to do with her time.
I decide to call her Helen and make her an editor.
We are now walking home together in companionable silence, thinking about coffee with cream.
Artwork based on photo by Maciej