Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Day Trip

I've been experiencing some writers block so I turned to a book called "642 Things To Write About" for an idea. I turned to a page and picked a prompt. I won't tell you what the prompt was but I can assure you that this is a work of fiction.
Nothing boosts my confidence quite like a new hair color and a fresh pack of socks. It will take a train, a bus, and a mile of walking to get to Target but I really need a change of scenery. My usual errand route is always riddled with distant acquaintances who ask things like "so what are you doing with yourself these days?" and that's not a question that I feel ready to answer right now. For reasons I can't quite place I am comforted by the  the distant, soulless glow of Target and it's empty promises of a clean and simple life. And I have a coupon.

I move slowly through the aisles. I don't intend on straying from my short list but I have two hours before I have to be back at the bus stop. I have the last $50 of my graduation money in my wallet and I have decided to allow myself to spend all of it if I find anything worth while. I was hoping I might find a nice fitted blazer for interviews on clearance but all they have is oddly sized  jeans  and an assortment of sad beige cocktail dresses. I'm trying to curb my disappointment when I turn the corner and see a vaguely familiar frame in profile inspecting bed linens. It is a man of around 40 with a receding hairline and a surprisingly voluminous blond ponytail. He is wearing a faded green polo shirt, frayed Teva sandals with socks and, inexplicably, red bike shorts. I can't place the familiarity so I lower my sunglasses and duck into the next aisle while I try to remember his name. I hear a muffled voice on the other side of the partition. The tone is whiny and what phrases I do catch are passive aggressive. " never made it clear....I guess that's what you think is best for you..." and so on.

 The voice and the image of the man with the pony tail click together in my mind I remember how I know him. He was one of my English teachers in High School. He was always quick to get personally offended when students failed to turn in homework and he was prone to sulking and pouting if his lectures weren't met with enthusiasm. He was a mess and I heard that he quit the year after I graduated. He WOULD ride his bike to Target in sandals to look at duvet covers. His conversation must be heating up because I can now hear most words clearly. "Well if that's what you want I guess I have to accept nevermind that....I'll see you tomorrow." I'm not his biggest fan but I figure I might as well say hello now and get it over with. I  round the corner to his aisle trying to look like I'm in a hurry.

There he is amongst the comforter sets. His head is down and as I wheel closer I realize with horror that he is gently weeping. Every conscious part of my brain is screaming "RUN!" but my muscles are too shocked to comply. I stand there, stupidly staring at my former teacher. He must feel my eyes on him because he looks up suddenly. He appears perplexed at first, then somewhat embarrassed, then, again to my horror, gleeful. "Oh my god! It's been years! You have no idea how nice it is to see a friendly face right now. What have you been doing with yourself?" 

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