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Avery Gates

The basil was wilted. Soft and slouching. Something dying among the living. I shuddered, picking it out from the other fresh plants and throwing it into the cart. I had gone to the doctor on Tuesday, it was now Monday of the following week. I still hadn’t digested the news. The fluorescent lights of the store made my eyes ache. I walked further down the aisle, spotting some moldy cauliflower along the way. “Why do you guys sell produce anyway?”

I turned to answer and immediately regretted it. Brandon was my trainee for the day. I didn’t like Brandon. He was almost as tall as me and apparently didn’t know how to operate a shower. I could almost see my reflection in the shiny black mess on his head.

“We didn’t until recently. I guess corporate decided that people want to buy everything in one place.”

“You can do that at Loblaws though,”

I turned and started walking, letting his question hang unanswered, “Yes. Yes you can.”

I hadn’t mentioned my diagnosis to anyone. I figured I’d get too much unwanted attention. I was going to call my parents when I got back, but never did. Pity was something I intentionally avoided, no matter the situation.

I saw Brandon glance at the clock. It was 4:45. The store was completely empty.

We walked out at 5:30. Closing up took longer that usual with Brandon delaying each step.

It was winter and the moon was already in the sky. I could see my breath. There was no wind and it hung motionless in the air. Brandon started walking towards the bus stop.

There was a crack from across the parking lot. I glanced to where it had come from. Another crack. There was something shiny in front of Loblaws. Another crack. Three men. They were trying to pry open the doors. Brandon had stopped walking and was looking for the noise.

One of the men spotted us. He started walking in our direction.

I stood still. I was tired. I was annoyed. I was also angry.

“WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING”

The man froze.

“GET OUT” I screamed, my throat already raw.

It felt good.

“GO. LEAVE.”

Brandon had frozen mid-step. He was staring at me.

“Like a deer in the headlights,” I thought. I still didn’t like Brandon.

The man had started walking back towards his friends.

I considered following him. But then I considered my age. And my health insurance.

The men had left.

Suddenly I felt tired. My chest was heaving and my hands were shaking.

It was only Monday.

The End.