I turned the ignition off, opened the heavy door and stepped onto the hard, black pavement and into the frigid night. My breath made ghostly clouds in the air as I pulled off the one leather glove I wore to keep my driving hand warm and shoved it into my pocket. A teenager in an orange vest glanced my way and then looked down, turning to an abandoned electronic cart. He moved to sit on it and gripped the steering wheel with a child’s delight as I hustled into the over-heated megastore. Hits from the 50’s and 60’s blared over the scratchy intercom, echoing in the cavernous, empty building.
A woman delicately selected the ripest fruits from a display, her ponytail bobbing as I walked behind her towards the main aisles. I walked slowly, listless and tired in a ghost town of a store. I had a meaningless mission to pick up a meaningless everyday object for a rather meaningless task, so I took my time. A brunette woman organized car shaped toothpaste dispensers in the first-aid aisle, her face an impenetrable mask. Another woman with wisps of hair escaping from her tight bun diligently folded and fiddled with clothing that no one was there to see. A couple of customers roamed here and there, browsing. One woman with a scarf wound tightly around her neck scowled down at a bottle of something while an older woman stood beside her and looked on, apathetic.
With my merchandise tucked under one arm I wandered through that empty labyrinth. I sat on a plush, felt sofa on sale for $899. I drifted through the aisles of trashy romance novels and half-hearted greeting cards. I contemplated buying a pencil and then did. Sitting in a large, leather armchair under the HOME & GARDENS sign, I tore open the new pack of pre-sharpened pencils and tried to write about the strange feelings that drifted through me.
A curious and somewhat taken aback sales clerk asked me if I needed assistance. I murmured a no without looking up, my body bent over the small leather journal I had pulled from my pocket. I had to catch it- this feeling. The melancholy emptiness of this lifeless place that resonated deep within me. I had to understand why. Why did I feel drawn to the quiet loneliness of this abandoned store? Why did I yearn to stand among the empty aisles? I had to know. Yet the mind yields little insight when faced with a frenzy of thought. Sitting in that ugly, brown chair at my local grocery store I tried to braid the warring threads of thought that pulled and twisted in every corner of my conscious mind into some semblance of order. Yet to no avail. The braid slipped from my fumbling grasp and the threads spilled back into chaos. Numb, I tucked my small journal back into my pocket and got up. With my head down I walked back into the darkness of the night, away from the glowing fluorescent lights. I walked away and tried to think on anything and everything else. I sped up, almost breaking into a run as I tried to get away from that empty place and the chaos of my mind. Too bad the mind has nowhere to hide.