|Fort Ave, Lynchburg, VA|
a local store is running a special, all you can fit in a 12 oz. cup for four dollars. my son closes his eyes with each bite, savoring the cooling sweet on his tongue, we got our money's worth.
a family of four, a mexican laborer in dirty jeans and stiff pit T-shirt, teens---people file down the line filling cup after cup, the attendants in their lime green shirts dash back and forth, refilling the add-ons: crushed Reese cups, gummy worms, diced fruit, candies & pump action syrups. few customers sit at the tables outside, most either circle ones inside, run to their car or hug wall space. chatter, moan, sigh. chatter, moan, sigh--competes with the light ambient music escaping corner speakers.
'you said, all i could fit,' an elderly lady at the cash register proclaims, great snakes of ice cream rising like a mushroom cloud six inches over the rim of her bowl.
her husband shuffles down line behind her, hunched in his white dress shirt and grey trousers. sparse silver hairs gather at the corners of his mottled head. his hands shake with the weight of his own bowl, a tower threatening to topple, dropping orange and yellow chocolates that slide down its face, like snow skiers, to skitter across on the floor.
my son's eyes saucer as they take the table to our left, puddles already forming where their cup bases kiss the table & she starts explaining to all of us why she took so much, 'well, it said, all you could fit,' her husband digging deep with his spoon already, racing to keep up. they have been married fifty years, love coming here, met in school, he was a shoe salesman--who is eating the whole time as hers melts as she tells all, become a smoothed faced ghost, drip by drip, by drip.
our spoons rest in our empty bowls, the old man has carved a small tapered monument to trim the run off and she takes her first wet bite. he says, and has said nothing, just smiles as her over-painted lips turn up around the spoon. their free hands find each other across the table top, fitting together loosely. they eat and smile. I ask my son if he is ready to go out into the heat again.
'sure,' he answers, happy to return to the few remaining patches of weeds.
he likes to work, so i know he will be alright, because that is what it takes. and a little bit of grace.
written for Imperfect Prose & Theme Thursday.