Scott must’ve been delirious when he told me he’d be moving just down the street. Here’s what he should’ve said: “I’m moving halfway across town, but don’t worry because the apartment isn’t that bad. Except that it is. Because it’s a one-bedroom dump and Lindsey has to sleep on the ratty couch or the floor, but she can’t stay with you, Mitch, because she’s my daughter. We’ll still see you, it’ll just be a lot less.”
That would’ve been the truth.
However, as I’m filling up his tiny apartment, which is much more dull and compact than mine by the way, I can’t bear to tell him how I feel about this situation. He probably feels much worse, but he’s keeping it together. I am, on the outside, as well.
“Do you wanna grab some lunch?” I ask, pushing the last box into the room, looking around for a space to put it, but settling that inside the doorway will work for now.
He gets quiet then, his movements looser and not as motivated. “I’m sorry Mitch, I don’t have the money for that.”
Deep red spreads across my cheeks as if it’s creamy peanut butter and I’m the toast. “Oh, yeah, of course.” I almost offer to buy it for him, but I get another idea. “Okay, well, I’ll leave you to this for a while. Call me.”
He nods and thanks me for my help. Little does he know I’ll be back within the hour.
I have déjà vu, except it isn’t just the feeling that this has happened before. It actually has. Once again I’m at a store buying tons of supplies for Scott’s life. I remember shoving those Walmart bags at him when he accused me of wanting him the day after Christian’s death, and I remember him clinging to those same bags when he showed up on my doorstep, homeless. This is what helps, this is what he needs, this is what I’m going to do.
I’m still at Walmart, but this time in their grocery aisle. I shop the deals understandably, grabbing all the value items. I get lots of soup and crackers. Ground beef. Cheese. Three different cereals. Strawberries. Bananas. Teddy Grahams. Tomatoes. Onions. Potatoes. Noodles. Marinara sauce. Frozen dinners. Coffee grounds. Bread. All of these among some others. Just enough to get him started. I also grab paper towels, toilet paper, and a candle that smells like clean laundry. It’s time to make his home actually homey. On that note, I grab matches and batteries and little essentials like that.
I leave the bags outside his door and do a ding-dong-ditch sort of deal. I run. He’ll know it’s me, no doubt, but it’s worth the rush and feeling like a kid again. I go home after that and wait for a thank you text.
It doesn’t come.
I make myself some dinner and eat alone, like every other night of my life. I watch television alone on my sofa, like every other night of my life. And I go to bed, and fall asleep alone, like every other night of life.
I wake up the next morning to a Snapchat from Scott. thank you
I debate if I should play dumb, but I decide instead to just not answer. It’s time for work soon.
They put me as a cashier for the day because they’re short on people. I cannot express my annoyance enough. A long shift of just talking to people. That is disgusting.
I grumble my way through most of my shift, glad the end is approaching. All I want to do is go home and eat. It must be evident on my face because a customer walks up and says, “Long day?”
I try to be the happy, friendly, customer-service-loving kind of person, but can’t pull it off. I sigh, “Yeah, long day.” I start to scan his items.