Fourth in the express lane at Safeway, you scan the rows of gossip and gum displayed at eye level. The old man in front of you keeps taking the same piece of paper out of his pocket, reads it aloud, then puts it back in his pocket. A little boy in the lane next to you points to the mylar balloons floating above the registers. A blue and gold “Congrats, Grad!” rubs against a pinkly sweet “Happy Birthday”.
You’ve been stuck with this cashier before, the one who whistles “On Top of Ol’ Smokey” as he punches in each code. You glance behind you. The line stretches through the aisle beyond the frozen pizza.
Someone calls your name.
“Hi Marge” you reply, keeping watch on the boy, now begging his mother for a balloon.
“I thought that was you! How are you? It’s been ages. How are Jim…
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