Just as it should be

With a few cars donning headlights, Gracie Gibbs slid on her sunglasses. It was a jaunt down the street to the local pet store and a lovely walk it would have been on a pre-summer’s eve; the soft air like liquid swallowing the sun, giving birth to moon beams filled with fluttering moths.

She parked in an empty parking lot, disposing her cheap shades on the dash. Her heels graced the pavement to the squeal of a rusted door. No matter, Gracie headed into the store straight for the cat aisle, plopping a medley of wet cat food into a basket hooked on her elbow. Her sprayed red hair in delicate curls framed her small features.

The kind of cat food didn’t matter; beef, chicken, seafood platter. Could the cats really tell the difference? One cat ate nothing, the other everything. Gracie filled her basket until she had a sampling from each aisle reserved for cat care, efficient even though she was in no hurry. She had nothing or no one to rush home to. Carl would be snoozing on the couch with a bag of potato chips spilling out onto his holey Motley Crüe T-shirt, draped on a body that had not voluntarily broken a sweat since the eighties; the same era as his T-shirt.

The boy at the register couldn’t have been older than Carl when he acquired that T-shirt, long before he and Gracie met. The kid surveyed Gracie and her hands, fresh with a henna tattoo. Gracie’s eyes rested on ink slithering like a snake up his sleeves where his design no doubt continued unbroken, following the lines of his collarbone to sculpted pecs. She stared in plain sight.

“Is that a tattoo?” he asked.

Gracie cleared her throat. “Oh, this? It’s henna.” When he raised his eyebrows, she explained. “It’s just temporary.” She compared his complex ink display of skulls and tongued lizards to her soft brown hues of flowers and scallops covering her hands and fingers.

The word temporary had no bearing as his eyes sparkled a translucent blue, his spiked hair black. He leaned in. “Here are some coupons for you. You save one dollar when you spend three. Next time,” he said, touching her hand. “And when you complete this survey, you save three dollars.”

He had explained the receipt at such length. Her fleeting thoughts intersected with the display of lizards on his arm, which appeared to fly as he moved to and fro. She could work here, she thought, with the lizards. With him. She could offer him advice or stare into his eyes; this kid, who would have been the same age as her own if she’d had one.

But lizards need crickets and she couldn’t bear to touch crickets. She’d drop them to the floor.

He placed the receipt in her palm.

Their tattoos met in the exchange. Hers would fade, his would last forever.

She clasped the paper and walked into the night of chirping crickets, rubbing their wings together in the bushes out of sight.

Just as it should be.

photo credit: IMG_2760 via photopin (license)

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17 thoughts on “Just as it should be

  1. I just love this little story in the pet store – and your tattoo references as well. Made me think of my daughter when she worked in a pet store last summer – she would tell me about the crickets and how awful it was to bag them for customers – and she got one of those henna tats last summer as well! I have to say I was relieved it was temporary. Just love the imagery you create Amy, as always. Hope you are doing well – seems so, through your writing as of late. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, how funny that this story had three things in common with your daughter…the pet store, the crickets and the henna tattoo! The crickets would be pretty tough for me to deal with and probably bad enough that I could never work at a pet store. I remember once I had to put crickets in our aquarium and several got out. I had crickets in my house for weeks. Luckily, they were just little ones. Just this morning, my cat delivered a grasshopper to my bed. Thank you very much. 🙂 Thank you, Kelly. Feeling better. Thanks for asking. I’m just writing to write. It feels good. Thanks for reading! xox

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Now I think I need to research something a bit further about crickets. I’m not sure if it’s scientific theory or ancient history but somewhere in there was a way to predict what the temperature was going to be for the weather forcast by way of cricket chirping. Seems that if the chirping is fast and more constant, more hot weather on the way. Toward fall when the temps cool down the few that are still out there chirp at slower intervals. Humm, well I like crickets and this was a cool short Amy!

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    1. Well, according to your article you sent me, you are spot on with your theory. The more chirps the hotter it is. Thanks for sending that to me. I can tell all my friends this summer when it’s 110 degrees out! Thanks so much, Sal.

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