Always going away

I sat restless. Waiting.

That’s all it ever felt like I was doing these days. Waiting. Watching, like a shadow following in my own footsteps. An observer of my own life.

I look through my own eyes and see a world that is gray.  The February sky swirling with deep, dark clouds and misty rain that meet the ocean on the horizon. Seagulls mew and the wind blows, making me chilly. It’s a serene morning on the dock, and I try to hold this moment until my mind pulls me away again. I notice my body and how tense I feel. My jacket is whipped by the breeze and my arms hold it tightly in place around me. I sigh deeply, the sea air rich and briny.

Only 1 more week here, Maeve. 7 days, and maybe I’ll watch my life fill with color. I can be someone else in a different life.

“Maevey!” My thoughts paused; I turn to see the small, sturdy redbrick building labeled Frank’s. A very round and petite Mrs. Corn smiling and waving from the glass door. I give the morning ocean view a parting glance and hold myself tighter as I part from the pier. There are a couple of boats docked along it, rocking with the slow waves and an American flag is whipping in the wind, the snap hook hitting the pole sending loud intermittent rings through the air.

“You are too young to be moving this slow,” Mrs. Corn says gently as I approach her. She holds the door open for me and I offer her a soft smile and a small hug as I walk in ahead of her. Frank’s is a local small business, this town’s best one stop shop. Local fresh caught fish in old, refrigerated glass displays and rows full of snacks and supplies of any kind. The store is dimly lit, the fluorescent lights buzz and flicker.

I laugh only lightly, feeling shy. Do I move so slow?

She moves to pass me, her light eyes giving me a knowing look. She reaches up to pat my shoulder as she continues through the familiar store. “You can’t think so much, my dear.”

I lean my elbows back on the old wooden bar as she disappears into the back.

“To have no thoughts at all,” I mutter, lightly kicking at the stone flooring with the toe of my dusty boots. I should clean them.

She reappears with an arm full of paper bags marked RYAN in black sharpie, her gray hair wispy around her wrinkled face. Handing the bags off to me, she gives me another smile. “I know you. This bubbly girl full of light, shining as you go.”

I remember that girl.

Mrs. Corn hugs me close, crinkling the brown paper. “You know her, still. You’ll find her.” She holds me at arm’s length for just a moment, giving a reassuring look. “Patience, dear.”

I imagine a storm cloud hanging over my head. I must be so obvious.

But still, this woman has known me most of my life, her wise eyes seeing me. Maybe the only person who sees me and I don’t know how to thank her.

So I give her a grateful smile, “You’re the best, you know.”

This makes her laugh, giving me a few soft pats on the back. “Small town. There isn’t much competition,” She’s still laughing quietly as she scoots me out of the store.

This place is a comfort. Familiar and homey as anything I’ve ever known. 5 moves in four years, and I have always found my way back here- to Mrs. Corns and the dock. I suppose I’ll miss it when I leave.

Talk story

  1. ja99 says:

    Thank you so much for an interesting and engaging story. I appreciate that the main character, Maeve, finds a loving spirit and role model in Mrs. Corn. Also, “Frank’s Store” in Hawai’i pops out as so familiar to me. Frank’s represents many places down the street where I live. At the same time, I feel a sense of loss in the narrative as we know that a small store cannot compete with Walmart, Target and other big box corporations. There’s a struggle/tension building up. I wonder what will happen to Maeve — will she start moving quickly? I hope not!

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