short stories ~ literary fiction ~ social commentary
copyright © 1999 - 2013
This past Thursday we had Veteran’s Day, which quietly slipped by most the people I met, me a cashier, the day busy. We are prohibited from wearing any gear that’s not ShopRite gear. Monday I asked permission to wear my Navy Veteran ball cap. I repeat: the day slipped quietly past most people.
Others, some, our eyes met, miles of bad road seen in a nod. Some: “Welcome home.” I’d nod: “Welcome home.” One man dropped his bag in his cart and leaned his elbows on the belt, me matching his posture, face to face, inches apart. He told me the story of a firefight that stripped his life of those he loved, all those years ago.
I put my hand over his. “Welcome home.” I had a story, but chose to drink his instead, carrying his story in my belly the rest of the day, into the night. I said to him: “Let’s hope, dream, in forty years, men don’t have to meet at a check out line in a supermarket like we’re meeting today.”
He straightened, turning away, then turned back: “Let’s pray on that.”