A short, short story

The shopping trip

Tasha grabbed three cans of mixed fruit from the stacked warehouse boxes and deposited them in her cart, smiling at her daughter, April. She was as patient as a two year old could be, sucking her thumb and twirling the corner of her ratty blanket.

We need to eat more vegetables. A can of green beans dropped into the basket.

Tahsa smelled like cigarette smoke and filth. She and Dwayne hadn’t showered since the water was turned off in their apartment last week, which had happened following the gas shut-off the week before.

“How about these?’ Dwayne held up two 99 cent pizzas. “They’re the cheapest ones they have.”

Tasha nodded and he tossed them in the basket. She rolled the cart and the wheels made a rhythmic eep, eep, eep.

When did I get this old? I’m only twenty. But she felt like forty. Bending over, she picked up April’s soiled blanket and put it in her pudgy, grimy hand. She touched her face before grabbing a loaf of bread.

“Mommy, my head itches.”

She didn’t know when things would get better. Dwayne had been out of work for three months and had refused to go on state aid. They hadn’t bought groceries in weeks.

Tasha pushed the cart to the checkout and unloaded the cereal, milk and bottled water onto the belt. April watched her blanket drift to the floor and the woman behind them picked it up and handed it to her. Tasha gave a weak smile to thank her.

Dwayne tried to keep a mental tally of the bill, but the cashier swiped the items faster than he could count.

“We only have sixty dollars,” Dwayne leaned in to the clerk. “Can you tell me what the total is?”

“It’s 52.31,” she said and looked at him for direction. He turned to Tasha, his eyes questioning.

The three of them looked at the belt where several items lay. The groceries gave no advice on what to do.

“Let’s take off the water.” That’s another five dollars, she thought as she lugged the heavy tray from the belt.

“But we need the water.”

“We need all of it,” she said through her teeth.

The woman behind them spoke, almost inaudible. “Excuse me, may I pay for that?”

They all stared at her. “Whatever is more than what they have, I’ll pay.”

“Thank you,” Tasha said before the woman could change her mind. “I can’t even…” she shook her head and large tears pooled in her dark eyes.

The woman’s smile was as quiet as her voice. “You’re welcome.”

After they checked out, Dwayne went to work packing their boxes. The woman stopped as she passed and Tasha looked up to thank her again.

“It’s a gift –,” she said, “Jesus loves you.” She walked away, carrying her bags.

Tasha continued filling the boxes, her throat tight. She didn’t think Jesus loved her at all.

The doors slid open and they entered the spring air, warm and fresh. She thanked God with no words as they walked to the car. She was unable to stop thinking about the kindness of the woman. Perhaps there was someone up there who did care about her.

At least – there must be someone who won’t let us go hungry this week.


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jim
    Mar 24, 2010 @ 00:39:02

    You accomplish a lot in a very short time here, I really enjoyed it. Also, the description of the family is dead-on and the way you handled the intervention by the stranger was very telling of an experienced writer. What could have been hackneyed was surprisingly heartfelt. Thank you for sharing!


    • kathanink
      Mar 24, 2010 @ 14:33:59

      Thanks for reading my story and for commenting – I am touched that this story moved you and that I was able to express it in a way that was “hackneyed.” What an encouragment to me!


  2. Natasha
    Mar 23, 2010 @ 19:46:35

    This is beautiful, and so heartfelt. And a good reminder of the importance of reaching out a hand when you are able and being grateful for being able to do so.


  3. dayner
    Mar 23, 2010 @ 11:43:18

    Wow, beautiful story. I think at some point we have all been on both sides of this scenario. I know I have–and can relate to both.
    I agree with DS, it’s sometimes hard to put yourself out there and still have people accept you. You are an inspiration.
    Thank you for that! 🙂


    • kathanink
      Mar 24, 2010 @ 14:32:15

      Dayner, thanks for sharing that you understand both sides of this story. I was inspired by something at the grocery store the other day that deeply moved me. Thanks for encouraging me! 😉


  4. darksculptures
    Mar 23, 2010 @ 08:35:24

    Kathan this is beautiful and emotionally powerful. Stand up and take a bow.

    I’m so happy to see you standing beside your beliefs and not sacrificing them for fear of losing readership. When you write with this kind of honesty and awareness of your beliefs all you can hope is for people to accept that you are who you are. Bravo! You are inspiring.


  5. Anonymous
    Mar 23, 2010 @ 07:31:39

    Beautiful story lis. Great way to start my day. How can i be Jesus to someone today?


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