By Chana Ruth

The vibrating hum of the car was soothing.  Relaxing.  Good.  Cars were good.  Interesting.  Outside the window were more cars.  Lots of cars going by.  Count the red cars. One. Two-three. Four. Five-six. Turning into the parking lot. This is the food place.

"Here we are, at the store," says the mommy in the front seat.  

Park between the shiny blue car and the black truck.  Cars all lined up in neat rows.  That's good.  Wish the little cars were here.  Watch their wheels slowly turn as they roll on the ground, and line them up in neat rows. The vibrating hum stops. Emptiness.  Rock in the seat. Hmmmm.  The seat belt is irritating.

The mommy in the front seat gets out and comes and opens the door. It's very sunny outside.  She takes off the seat belt. The buckle has a moment where it is bright and shiny. "Are you ready to go shopping like a big boy?"

"Big boy"

Hand pressure.  Not good.  But it is sameness.  Okay.  Walking is nice.  And the rows of cars.  Very nice.

Through the magic doors. Carts. Known sameness. The mommy lifts into the cart.  "You are almost too big for the seat.  I don't know what we're going to do.  Well, we're fine for now."

The food place is too noisy.  Soft noises.  But too many.  Radio songs. Voices talking.  Shoes walking. Carts clattering. Cashier noises.  Plastic bags being suddenly opened.  And worst of all, the high pitched sounds of motors, refrigeration, and lights gone bad.

But some things there are nice.  Rows and rows and rows.  Going up and down.  Fruit stacked in patterned piles. Shelves.  Looking at the cans of food all lined up neatly.  Almost perfect.  The labels are not right.  Yes, almost perfect.

The seat is beginning to get uncomfortable, to dig into the legs at the edge where they rested and against the side.  It is comforting to move the hands.

Suddenly, there it is.  Even the labels are right with only two mistakes, the ones with the two tomatoes, all lined up looking exactly the same direction.  In fact, it is oddly unsettingly, to see something so close to perfection and want so badly to fix it, but it is across the aisle.  Then, oh bliss!  The mommy moves the cart right next to them!

And now, to just reach over and turn the first can, so that the label faces the same direction.  What ecstacy!

But shock!  The mother has roughly moved the hand back away from the cans!  Look at the mother in disbelief.  Irritation replaces shock, then resolve sets in.  There is one more can to be fixed.  Reach out.

Before the deed can be done, the mother takes hold of the hand, places it firmly back in the lap, and says, "Ralphie, you can't be touching things.  I'm sorry."

Rage!  The can WILL be turned!  Reach quickly.  The mother grabs more quickly. "Ralphie, stop it!"

Scream!  Hit, hit, hit!  While the mother has her hands up to block the hits, grab towards the can.  No, she has grabbed the arm and moved the cart away.  Screams, sobs!  Fight!  What is she doing?  Removing from the cart. Strike everywhere. Arms, chest, face.  Her face is wet.

Fight! Fight! She won't put down."I'm sorry," she says to those standing silent as she walks past to the doors.

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