The woman stood in front of her at the checkout counter, needing three receipts for several small items. A few items she paid with food stamps, a few were markdowns from the bargain bin, the last few more markdowns that she paid for with Visa. Loudly, she made much of not having her name spoken aloud by the cashier, a pony-tailed man whom it became apparent she knew. In all, the woman had possibly ten items – this woman in a business suit and smart flats – who needed these three separate receipts and her name not said out loud, as if some one were following her. Or perhaps some one might recognize her, if not by sight, then surely by name.
Copyright S. J. Powers 2013
What She Knew
She had a birthday, became thirty, became morbid and suffering and told her husband she would bear no children, that inherent in birth is the sentence of death, that all childbearing is selfish, an illusion of immortality and how well she knew that she would die soon (what is forty, fifty more years compared to eternity?), that she was powerless, that her only life was moving along a path she could not remember freely choosing, and she would not know all experience, live all the lives, reach all the corners that she might, but if nothing else, she said, she wished better for her unborn offspring than this anguish, this knowledge of nothingness-after-life.
Take an aspirin, he said. Not unkindly.
# Published inWindy City Times Pride Issue (in slightly different form). Copyright S. J. Powers, 2013.