Only the disorganized or desperate went grocery shopping this late, 8:59 p.m., in their little town. Martha was one of them. Her cat, King Tut, had eaten his way through four of those little cans of Fancy Feast that day. The supermarket parking lot was empty except for one other car. She saw through the big plate glass windows, a lone figure moving through aisles. Row by row, the lights were going out.
Hurrying to the pet food section, Martha grabbed an armload of King Tut’s favorite, Creamy Delights with Spinach and Cheddar.
No one else in the whole store, but when she got to the checkout that one other customer had beaten her to it!
Martha had heard her old neighbor Stan was dead. Fell over in a ditch along Moyer’s cow pasture some years ago. Someone driving along had spotted him lying facedown in the cornflowers. Yet, he stood there before her in the grocery checkout line clutching a bottle of Robitussin Maximum Strength Nighttime Cough DM. One of her little cans rolled out of her arms and hit the floor.
Stan turned around to her. “I know it’s late,” he said, as if she were going to scold him. “But Nellie told me my cough was keeping her awake.”
He didn’t look like a ghost. Still, she took one step back. “And how is Nellie?” Martha asked. It would have been rude to inquire about his death.
“Not good. She has a brain tumor.”
“Oh my gosh. I’m sorry to hear,” Martha said.
“You ought to come visit her sometime. She’d love to see you.”
Martha had never heard Stan speak with such enthusiasm.
is a New York City-based writer whose short stories have been published in The Southwest Review, The Greensboro Review, Peregrine Journal, Skidrow Penthouse, Liars’ League NYC, 100 Word Story, The Hong Kong Review, and others. She won Pulp Literature’s (Vancouver) 2017 Hummingbird Prize for Flash Fiction. Her story “Descent” was shortlisted for the 2018 Editors’ Prize by Meridian Journal (University of Virginia). She loves micros and for about ten years she headed a group of alumnae of the Rutgers-Newark MFA program called “Monday’s Words” that weekly shared 100-word stories.
Author’s website: https://jeanettetoparstories.wordpress.com/