For Charlaine (flash prose) by Kimberly Cawthon
Charlaine is an old woman who bagged my odds and ends at the Target check-out counter. She looked to be in her late 70s with a short, slender frame, tight white curls, large glasses and a signature ensemble of red and khaki.
Why is she bagging my soap and cotton balls, my frozen veggies, mascara and mustard? Why isn't she crocheting or drinking a glass of iced tea on some golf course?
I was sad. I was angry.
"I can bag them," I said.
"It's alright," she said. "I started out in a grocery store... 50 years ago."
Do you have grandchildren Charlaine? Certainly they must be less rotten than your own children who have allowed you to be here amongst 20-somethings, hustling for minimum wage. Charlaine why are you here? Why are you bagging my things?
Did you get that bored in retirement to tinker with retail or are you the ones we failed. We, this country, you and me. Did we pluck you from your cozy house, your husband's military pension and force you into a life you thought long over?
I wonder about Charlaine.
I hope this is a recreational thing, that long hours on your feet, in your wrinkled skin and aching bones is temporary.
Who is taking care of you Charlaine? Not in a feeble sense, but an emotional one.
"Would you like to save 5% today by opening..."
"No thank you," I said.
I would like to save you, Charlaine.