Teaching normalcy

“Oh my…” They swallowed, staring out the window. “What- what did you do?”

She smiled at them, dropping her bag on the table. “Exactly what you told me to do!”

She was so ecstatic about it. They couldn’t believe it. They forced themselves to turn away from the window and look at her. “I told you to grab groceries. Not set a bank on fire!”

“But it was in the way!” She continued to smile, bouncing up and down on her feet.

“In the way of groceries?” They could have face palmed, but letting her out of their sight probably would be a bad idea. “How?”

“It just was!”

Nope, she certainly wasn’t ready to be let loose in the city. They would have to put their rehabilitation back to step one. They had been so certain that they were so far. Too bad.

Another grocery store tale

“What are you doing?”

“Shhh.” He didn’t know who the child was. People here really did let their children just run all over the store. It used to bother him, but he had long since stopped caring much about it.

Except for right now, as he was trying to focus.

“You’ve been standing there forever,” the little girl said. “What are you doing?”

He didn’t look down at her. He didn’t tear his eyes away. “Deciding.”

“Uh?”

“Between sea salt and sour cream and onion. This is very important.”

She stared between him and his two chip choices. “You’re weird,” she proclaimed, then ran away.

Two degrees of separation

“Put that back please.”

Ling did as Kun asked, because he’d asked nicely. “Can we get this?” he asked after, pointing at it.

Kun shook his head. “I’m sorry. We’re on a limited budget this time. Be patient, Ling, we’ll have dinner when we meet back up with the others.”

Ling nodded, contrite, and followed after Kun. Then a thought occurred to him. “Then we’re buying just… food?”

“And the other necessary travel supplies.”

“Beer?”

Kun stopped and looked at Ling. Ling could have sworn a very pleased looked was there, but looking closer Kun looked as he always did, simply content. “I don’t think I consider that necessary travel supplies.”

Jin and Shui were going to be livid. Kun was the only one who could get away with this. Ling smiled. “Yeah!”

More for food.

Five second memory

He stood there, staring at the shelves. Choices: vanilla, chocolate, caramel, coconut, sweet cream, mint, toasted marshmallow… He wasn’t even sure what he was here for. He didn’t put creamer into his coffee and no one had told him anything other than “pick up some creamer”, leaving him with the terrible choice of picking one of these that all of his roommates would agree upon. Regular vanilla seemed like the safest bet. On the other hand, if he picked something like mint and some people hated it, then maybe no one would ask him to do this again. At least, not without further clarification.

Opening the case, he reached for one of the creamers for something to collide into the back of his legs. He pitched forward into the selection, catching himself with his palm pressed against the window of the case door. Irritated, he wheeled about to complain to face the shopping cart that had hit him. No one was there. At least, not that he noticed at first. Narrowing his eyes on the little hands gripping onto the handlebar. Peering around, he looked at the little girl hanging off the cart, feet up on the bottom basket. “Where’re your parents?” he asked her.

“Buying the store,” the girl responded. “Now I’m buying macaroni and cheese.”

“Buying a lot of groceries? And you’re running your cart into people?”

“No!” she protested. “Just you.”

“And?” Prompting children into apologies wasn’t his forte, but without a parent around to take responsibility he felt like he should try.

“And no one else! You were just suddenly there!”

He chuckled. “Not that. If you run into someone, what do you say?”

She looked up at him, sticking her lower lip out slightly. Then she smiled. “Hello!”

He couldn’t help but laugh again. “Not that kind of run into. When you hit someone, accident or on purpose, what do you say?”

That made her pout, but she answered more promptly this time. “Sorry.”

“That’s okay. Thank you.” The girl gave him an odd look, but then she broke out into another toothy grin and rolled her cart away. He watched her go before turning back to pick out a creamer.

In a related development, the girl continued to run her cart into more people, apologizing after each.

I remember these days

The mission was underway. She lay on the cold metal, listening to the wheels rolling underneath her. She peered out from her hiding place as the target came nearer and nearer. The click of heels, ever present near her head, reminded her of how important stealth would be. Yet with such a short window of opportunity, she had no choice but to reach out and snatch her opportunity when it presented itself.

“Nailah, you put that candy back right now,” her mother commanded. “And get out from under the cart.”

With a hiss, the chocolate was returned to its place. Mission failed, Nailah sadly followed her mother to the checkout.