There are exactly eleven cars in the grocery store's parking lot. It's only 9:30, but even the usually lively apartment complex across the street looks dead and sickly under the circa 1970s street lights. Bailey and I get out of the car, still singing Sheryl Crow, and walk into the fluorescent brightness of the store.
We only need a few things, just the last ingredients for the fettuccine Alfredo we want to make the next day, but we were crawling under our skin to get out of the house--even just to drive up to Abbotsford, which is just about as exciting as Colby on any given day.
The two cashiers on duty nod hello as we walk in and go back to whatever it is they were doing: cleaning the glass over the bar code scanner (again), refacing the candy and magazines next to the register. Bailey and I head for the back of the store, the dairy section. The country songs our parents grew up with crackle over the loudspeakers. "Mothers, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys..."
A small girl stands next to the yogurt in the refrigerated shelves and stares up at us as her mother drifts towards the frozen pizzas, leaning on their empty shopping cart and shuffling along in flip flops from last summer. I get the chills, but I'm not sure if they're from the selection of cold cuts and cheese in the refrigerated section around me or the girl's vacant gaze.
Bailey grabs a wedge of Parmesan cheese, the only one in the entire cheese section spanning nearly the entire back wall of the store. This is more of a yellow cheese kind of place.
"Do we need anything else?" she asks.
"I don't think so. We only have ten dollars, so."
We take the chip aisle to the front of the store, passing a middle-aged man debating between Fritos and Cheetos. His cart already holds a 24-pack and a can of Easy Cheese. He turns to watch us as we walk past. We smile hello and keep walking as he puts both bags of chips in his cart.
In the checkout line the cashier asks if we've found everything okay. His skin is a weathered tan and his blond hair stays curly with the help of hair gel. We pay and decline a bag, turning to go back out to the car.
"Have a good day tomorrow, girls," the cashier says to our backs.
"Thanks, you too," we reply.
The automatic doors slide open and we hesitate for a moment, wondering if we should laugh. Instead we keep walking out to the nearly empty parking lot.