𝓙𝓸𝓪𝓷𝓷 𝓔𝓿𝓪𝓷

𝓡 𝓖𝓸𝓮𝓼 𝓽𝓸 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓢𝓽𝓸𝓻𝓮

   R decides to stop by Crowder’s Grocery on Wednesday night. She’s never kept much around the house, and besides, she needs food for Queenie, her gray tabby. She actually enjoys going up and down the aisles browsing for bargains. R notices that this week her favorite canned soup is on special. It’s Bink’s chicken noodle, the same kind her mother used to give her when she was playing sick in elementary school. She spies it on the bottom shelf and squats down to pick up a can. R suddenly loses her footing and begins to fall backwards in slow motion, fully aware of what is happening but with no means of stopping it. The back of her head bounces off the hard tile floor. She tries to scramble to get up but by then several people are gathering around her, pelleting her with concern.
    “Are you okay?”
    “Did you hurt yourself?”
    “Can I help you? I’m a nurse.”
    R falls back to the floor and curls into a fetal position. What else can she do? For some reason it doesn’t occur to her to simply get up and say, “I’m alright, it’s nothing.” It’s not nothing. R is dying. She stays frozen on the floor while the crowd grows larger. “Somebody call 911!” an elderly woman screams.
    R hears a younger man’s voice. “R? Are you okay?”
    It’s Tristan, the youth minister from her neighbor Susan’s holy roller church. They had become acquainted at a church meet-and-greet, and met subsequently at her friend A’s house party, where he’d shared his weed with her and A, and later shared A with A’s boyfriend, W. His is the last voice R wants to hear.


R still doesn’t open her eyes. At this point, she has to commit to playing possum. Truth be told, she doesn’t really want to get up. The notion that people really do care warms her cold tin heart.
    Just then, a small child wanders over and kicks R in the stomach. She sits up suddenly. “Ow! What the hell?” She glowers at the kid.
    “Hey!” someone from the crowd exclaims. “She’s not hurt!”
    “That’s pathetic,” someone grumbles.
    The crowd begins to dissipate. The kid’s mother rushes over.
    “How dare you talk to my little boy like that?” she growls, sounding possessed. R is shaking at this point. She truly is dying.
    Tristan saunters over with a bag of red delicious apples. She is now standing. She looks into his snaky yellow eyes, noticing his wide nostrils and thin lips.
    He leans in and whispers, “Come on, meet me in the parking lot. I’ve got more weed. You know you want to.”
    R is tired and just wants to go home.
    “I’m afraid I’ll have to take a raincheck,” she says as the fluorescent lights begin to flicker. It’s closing time. This would be R’s last trip to Crowder’s Grocery. She skips the checkout and leaves empty handed.

       Joann Evan is a writer from Northeastern Pennsylvania. She has been writing since she picked up a pencil at the age of six and has had poetry published in Pennsylvania Bards Eastern PA Poetry Review 2023 and Poets Live Fifth Anthology.