Wednesday, October 31

Water main broken down town. No laundry, no dishes. No baths for the kids. The water's brown. So dirty it leaves a ring in the bathroom sink. I can't make coffee.

At the market my mother tries to talk to everyone. She mistakes their wanting her to move her carriage for a more pleasant eye contact. She doesn't understand.

At the check-out the man looks at each thing. Says its name. Says its size. 28 ounce can of 'Kitchen Ready' tomatoes. Rings it in. Looks at the computer and reads what it says. 28 ounces. Kitchen-ready tomatoes. Artichokes. Oats-and-More cereal. Market Basket shredded chedder cheese. Martin's potato bread.

It is the longest check-out. Sam is crying. My mother puts him on the conveyor belt. He is happy. I bag my groceries as they come down. The man doesn't turn the second belt on and I have to reach for the tomatoes and the cereal and the cheese.

My mother is minding Sam. She doesn't put her groceries up. By the time I notice this the man behind her has his out, blue divider between his and mine. I pick Sam up and put her food where he was.

The man puts a pen in front of Sam. He picks it up. He gives Sam the receipt to sign. The man looks at my groceries and wants to bag the rest.

Sam is crying again. I ask the man to please ring her food in. He wants to bag. I ask again. I promise I can keep them seperate. He yields. By the time he is done naming her food it is almost all bagged. He tells her the total: $43. She only has $40. My card is already in my bag beneath the groceries. I dig it out. Take her $40. Pay for her food.

On the way home we stop for a cup of coffee. She digs in her purse for money to pay for it. I tell her it's my turn.

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