That girl at the front of the line, behind the register, the one with the same haircut hanging over her head like a halo, the same haircut she's had since I spotted her two years ago: it hangs down in these effortless locks that are so short they might not even be referred to as 'bangs' depending on who you're discussing it with. I'm pretty alone, though; discussion concerning just about anything is a long shot. I might as well be lowered onto a tight rope suspended between two cliff faces. Wearing a dozen water-soaked blankets balanced like clumps of rubble on my shoulders. I might as well dream it up, my day.
Walking into that store and saying Hi. She says Hi back.
Dreams. Fucking dreams.
That girl with the white supermarket button-up, the nametag I still haven't honed in on. Her two year smile. That girl's been hovering about the front entrance at the cash registers since I came here first. She never has looked a day older than that first glance. As for me, I must be as unrecognizable as shadows in a dark room. I found that fairly telling. Also, reality too. I found reality awful telling. A boy can be pretty stupid sometimes. Pretty awful fucking stupid.
What does it take, really, for that to happen in one's life? Some kind of miracle? You'd fucking die if you saw her, I say, to no one, in the frozen foods section, while I ponder the individual prices of microwaveable pizza versus a bulk purchase that will fuck me over in no time flat come midnight when my tapeworm belly growls out the chorus of a pack of wolves. My body will yawn and I'll eat bricks and mortar, suck up the tiles in the kitchen and the spots of tomato sauce spattered on fragments of crumpled foil. I'll kiss the mere scent of toast that may have still been lingering from the morning's breakfast. I will dig graves and fill them with my big plans. And I'll eat dinner made of plastic cups, shitty pizza from the microwave and droplets of dew from the morning-wet ears of the demon John who crawls from the carpet just like the sun crawls into the horizon and stains it orange with that really very particular swagger of a slightly drunk worker preparing for a full day's work and the all-too-near eventuality of sobriety.
I fucking stare at that girl at the market and pick at the bubblegum on the aisle rack. I pick at the options and put down some batteries, a tight little pocket-sized fucking book of crossword puzzles, two chocolate-covered cherries and a car-key light and a packet of fresh-breath tablets and two copies of the same gossip magazine.
It doesn't matter what you buy. She still smiles and laughs. She doesn't care at all, and I am so drawn to that. Her smirks posit the banner of "a life," and I know she has that in abundance the moment she clocks out at shift's end and disappears into the town. Leaving me in line forever and ever, in my stupid head.
I want to say stuff like, "Oh fine, things are great," in response to a general question. And then ask, "How are you?" I just want to hear her say FINE, ignoring any semblance of real conversation. FINE. Who is ever fine? I deserve so much less than that response, but I crave it. I fucking crave it.
But I've never heard her voice up close. Not once. Just from a distance. Certainly not speaking to me. I couldn't just stand there and have her ask me about my bank card. I'd sound as stupid as could be. Like the time I caught that kid's kite from crashing to the park grasses before it was demolished and his mother practically shoved her eyes into mine, and that goddamned grin, and how I said "no problem" and how I know she used her kid to just crawl onto to some guy in the park, out of loneliness or whatever, and how much I didn't care. I understand a lot when I don't care.
But when I do care, I don't understand a frigging thing.
And I could not bear to prod the cattle of my scared wandering thoughts into such a conversation with the girl at the register. Fuck no could I stand that.
Eternal cashieress, I'll just hope I always see you. That's what I will do. I can't ever talk to you. And it's not because I feel that you would not care. But seriously, my parents both died when I was yet a teenager, and my first sexual experience was with a blind girl in a hospital flower garden. She called me by my full name, like she was sounding out words in braille. It felt like that game where you enter a closet with some girl whose name was picked from a hat, and everybody waits outside the closet door and listens to just how much isn't going on behind the racks of coats.
I spent three years in the county jail for assaulting a bank teller. In the parking lot of a downtown bank, after closing hours. I spent two years on the payroll at St. Gibbons as a caretaker, but I was really just an assistant to the maintenance crew who knew more about buildings and upkeep than I did. I spent three years tracing my fingers in the obituaries, trying to feel something for people who knew so many people who saw fit to feel something when they'd passed.
That girl in the supermarket makes me wish I could finally kill myself and get it overwith.