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Sea of Humanity

Daily Engagement

This lovely piece, by author Patiana  McMahon, embodies the spirit of the daily engagement write -- the writer's alert, moment to moment interaction with her inner and outer environment.

Untangling a blue and gray shopping cart from their chain at the entrance to Wal-Mart, I felt slightly embarrassed to be shopping there. But their low prices and the ability to shop for both food and various sundry items also lent me a sense of alignment with the other shoppers.

Beneath a large overhanging sign which read "Hardware" I spotted a rare blue vested "employee" whom I approached to ask where I might find felt squares for the legs of my chairs. Behind her wire framed glasses, her left iris clung to the inside corner of her eye, like a shy child. It was that eye I spoke to, not wanting to call attention to my noticing it by avoiding it. The woman seemed relieved to be interrupted from her task and accurately directed me to the felt.

Afterwards I passed her lane again just so I could thank her.

Near "Sporting Goods" I heard a young girl's plea ending with "daddy." Then I saw  her father wearing a navy blue jumpsuit with his name sewn onto a label above his breast pocket. Nearly half of his face was covered with a port wine mark.

Heading back towards the front of the store, down one of the wider aisles, I passed a woman slightly older than me, pushing a wheelchair in the opposite direction. The man in the chair sat bent at the waist; like a tree snapped in half by a storm, his head nearly resting on his knee. His eyes had a faraway look. I wondered if he was aware of his distorted shape.

Seeing the couple suddenly reminded me of my recent struggles; the car which had died, the lack of work, the homeowners insurance company's threat to cancel. I also felt grateful that I could make myself a cup of tea and play tennis; seeing others limitations made me aware of the myriad things that I take for granted.
Near the grocery section, three boys my son's age glided down the aisle laughing. One wore a long, curly wig beneath his ski cap. Another squirted yellow silly string onto the back of his friend's sweatshirt. As I reached for a gallon of apple cider, a woman near me complained audibly.
"I'm not gonna buy this awful food" she said.
She seemed to be seeking an ally, someone to agree with her or to console her. I bent over the bin of cucumbers.
Moving east, a young attractive couple headed towards me. The blond woman wore a black tight fitting jacket with a sequined peace sign on it. The man had longish, dark hair. Wedged beneath the shopping cart's basket, on the lower rack, lay a young boy on his stomach.
"Put your hands inside" snapped the blond in a tone so abrasive, it dissolved her prettiness like throwing snow onto fire.
Pretending to look at the cookie tins on display near the check out counters, I stopped to watch the wave of people rifle past me as they entered the store. I felt invisible to them. I remembered the Halloween party we'd been invited to the next night. I felt ambivalent about going.
At cash register #8, the young man with "JOHN" handwritten on his red, white and blue name tag was finishing up the transaction in front of me. Seeing a broom balanced across my cart, he asked:
"Oh, so you're going to clean up my area?"
I smiled.
"No, but could you tell me how much the broom is? It doesn't have a price.
"Since it looks like it's made of gold (the handle) and onyx (the bristles) and that's probably emeralds on the (green) tip, it'll be (scan) five dollars." he said.
"That's a bargain, O.K. I'll take it."I asked John if he was dressing up for Halloween, adding that he had a great imagination.
"No, I don't think I've ever dressed up for Halloween", he told me.
"Even when you were little?" I asked incredulously.
"No." He reiterated.
"Well, it's never too late to start." I told him.
"Are you dressing up? " he asked me.
"Yes, I'm going to a party."
"As a queen?" he surmised, which pleased me.
"As a flapper" I told him, suspecting that he didn't know what one was.
Leaving the store, I thought of how I love to dress up, even when it's not Halloween. I love to leave the quotidian aspects of life at times.At the car, I remembered him, how I used to dress up meticulously just so he could undress me.
Patiana McMahon
  • Rachel

    Nice, Patiana!

  • AnneMorgan

    I really liked this piece.You have a great way with words.I loved the 'rare blue vested employee' its double meaning conjuring up a bird and for me a bird on one leg! "Put your hands inside" snapped the blond in a tone so abrasive, it dissolved her prettiness like throwing snow onto fire..The last sentence was very effective. I know that this has been on the site for a long time but i only just discovered it again!
    Would love to see more of your work.

  • Patiana - Thank You Anne

    Dear Anne,
    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my piece. I am so grateful to you for your kind, encouraging comments. They lifted my spirits!

  • djluri - In agreement

    I'm so glad you rediscovered this piece, Anne. And I, too, would love to read more such pieces. I will make sure Patiana knows of your comments. Maybe she will be inspired to contribute another selection.

  • AnneMorgan

    Patiana i am sorry that you feel so dispirited,or thats how you came over.As i said i would love to hear more of your writing.In fact it would be good to do an interview ,remember that Dara suggested that we interview members of the group.Would you be interested? The only way i could do it would to be on Skype.

  • AnneMorgan - re:

    Hallo again Patiana, I was waiting for some more piecs fromm you as i enjoyed the one above as you know.I would like to read more so thought that this might wake you into action.
    All best

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