Grocery Stores and Footboards

I was on my way to the meat section, at the back part of isle 12 where they keep the small collection of hardware. You know, the assortment of bolts and nuts; car accessories; defrosters; keychain lights; magnets; padlocks and batteries that you think you’ll never need but can never find when you’re actually looking for them.

I had just looked at my phone for the third time in as many seconds, knowing full well that the vibrations I felt were coming from the grocery carts rolling past and not the phone in my pocket. Still. Damn. Why wasn’t he calling?

That’s when you showed up.

I had just been contemplating the theory that maybe if I could actually commit to putting my bed together rather than resting the footboard and headboard behind the bed in the apartment that I’d been leasing for the last three months, if I could actually commit to staying in San Francisco and unpacking, that maybe I wouldn’t have so much trouble committing to a relationship, or at least a sex life. Maybe.

Which is why it was so strange when you, the king of non-commitment, who’d probably taught me everything I know about it, stuck a packet of screws (dare I even point out the irony— or, depending on how you interpret the word, the contradiction — here?) in front of me.

“Use these.”

I wanted to ask Why? What for? But I couldn’t ask why, I hadn’t seen you in three years… I couldn’t ask why… not about the screws anyway. What are you doing here? would have been more appropriate, and yet that’s not what came out.

“Why? What for?”

“For your bed.”

“My bed?”

“Your footboard…uh… you said…” You pause here, looking at me strangely. “You were talking out loud.”

“I was not talking out loud.”

“You were.”

“No I wasn’t.”

“You’re right, Amanda, you weren’t talking out loud. I read your mind.”

“What are you even doing here? You live in Connecticut.”

“New York.”

“New York. Whatever.”

“You live in Chicago.”

“No, I don’t. I moved here.”

“I know.”

“You know? Then why did you say that?”

“Cause. You told me where I lived… so…Nevermind. Megan told me.”

“Told you what?”

“That you live here.”

“I didn’t tell Megan.”

You looked stumped, but recovered somewhat quickly for someone in your position. “Well, I had Megan ask Sam, who had to ask Ben, who found out from Hillary. So yeah, Megan did tell me. Kind of.”

I stared at you in complete disbelief for what felt like ten minutes until you finally broke the silence.

“So who can’t you commit to?”

I thought about my response for a second before going with my gut. “Lots of people.”

“Is that who you keep checking your phone for?”


“Good. Because I was worried I was going to show up at some inconvenient time.”

“Some inconvenient time for what?”

“For… you know.” Of course I knew. I didn’t want you to know I knew, or even think that the thought had crossed my mind. “…Ugh, I don’t know” you finished.

“Then I certainly don’t.”

“Why are you being like this?”

“Like what?”

“Shut up.”

“Because I have no idea what you’re doing here.”

Which is when you kissed me. And I had to relinquish my grocery cart. Because I had always imagined relinquishing my grocery cart for things far less romantic… so, naturally, when that happened, I had to relinquish my grocery cart. And I ended up losing all of my groceries; except the screws, we bought the screws.

© 2008 Alix Purcell

Grocery Stores and Footboards

Alix Purcell

New York, United States

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