Once, I Went to Walgreens

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I.

Once, I went to Walgreens
to replace my daughter’s Hot Huez hair chalk
because the blue chalk pan tumbled into the toilet
when my son was just looking at it.

II.

Once, I went to Walgreens
to pick up some photos of my kids so I could
put them in Christmas cards that needed to be sent
Priority if they had any hope of getting there in time.
Somehow, my online order had not gone through,
and I felt hot and desperate, like everything was
ruined. I huffed at the nice employee–whose
fault this was not at all–and now I see her
there often, can’t let her see me.

III.

Once, I went to Walgreens
and the panhandling lady
stationed outside told me
I looked great. I gave her
something for that. When
she said this on other days,
too, and I realized it was
only her patter, I tried
not to feel as if I’d just
been taken, had never
looked great at all.

IV.

Once, I went to Walgreens
and was told to Be well, but
somehow, it only made me
feel sicker and sadder
than I did before.

V.

Once, I went to Walgreens
and the art school-looking cashier
asked me what my cinnamon supplement
was for. I told her it helps lower blood sugar.
I didn’t tell her that mine has been a little high
in my past couple rounds of bloodwork, and that
I fear this is the beginning of an internal collapse
that I could have prevented but chose not to,
or even now could reverse but choose not to
because I’m afraid it’s now a done deal, that
I’m headed, at last, for the world of lancets and
Glucerna. So many failures. She told me how she
loves to chew cinnamon sticks. I wanted to stay
there for a while, in her zone of judgment-free
curiosity. Someday, she might learn that it’s
rude to ask about people’s purchases, that
even the most innocent-looking basket
can be freighted with secret grief. But
it didn’t have to be that day, and I
don’t ever have to be the one
who tells her.

 

 

For NaPoWriMo, Day 25.

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