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Doing What It Takes To Get By

October 20, 2021

He walks through the produce section looking for parsley for a meal he knows he’s probably not going to cook. But if he was to cook, he would need parsley. Even though the parsley’s not essential to the recipe. But he might as well get it because he’s already here.

His next stop is milk. He didn’t realize he needed milk until he walked past the dairy section. That’s how most of his shopping goes. He doesn’t really have a list. Doesn’t really need one. He doesn’t have much of an appetite lately, so cooking and eating have become more of a formality. A ritual to health.

Walking up and down the fluorescent-lit hallways, he takes a moment to admire the work of the unknown artist(s) who stock the shelves that day. All the labels on the canned merchandise are faced directly towards him. The symmetry and repetition are beautiful. Work like this is usually only seen at higher-end establishments. Your Lunds and Byerly’s or Kowalski’s. But not at your run-of-the-mill Cubs.

Leisurely, he makes his way to the self-checkout. He’s got nothing else to do tonight, so this is the highlight of his evening. As of late, his social life has been lacking. It is so hard to meet people nowadays. Everyone is online. So instead, he spends most of his evenings putting together puzzles and trying not to excessively masturbate. He’s gotten pretty good at one of them. But it’s only going to be a matter of time before his vision is so bad that he can’t see the pieces.

The parsley won’t scan. The light on top of the register turns red as he waits for assistance. Finally, someone comes. They seem partially annoyed at the inconvenience. Which was fine, because so was he. They type in some mysterious code and rescan it. Irritated, they hand him the parsley and return to their post, waiting only for the next interruption that is destined to happen.

Grabbing his groceries, which he decided not to bag on account he only has two things, the milk, and the parsley, he makes his way to the exit.

It’s bitterly cold outside, at least for an October. It won’t be long before snow falls and he’s dressed in 50 different layers of flannel, dreaming about moving somewhere warmer, like Iowa. But now is not that time.

He gets in his car and tosses his groceries, the milk, and the parsley, onto the passenger seat. He looks longingly at the pack of cigarettes that are sitting on the dashboard. He’s limited himself to only two cigarettes a day, and he’s already had three. The third one was stupid. He didn’t need it like he needs one now. But the rules are the rules.

He puts the key in the ignition and starts the car.

It’s been seven and a half days since she left

and he’s doing what it takes to get by.

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