Another Convenience Store Love Story

C.C. Russell

A customer came into the store this morning muttering under her breath “Now where did I put those three quarters?” When I jokingly answered that I couldn’t remember, she smiled warmly and replied, “You should know where I put me.”

***

You should know where I put me. One of those silly things that comes across sounding really profound in the moment. And of course it reminded me of you, here in the middle of this whole crazy thing. Words in the vortex of three years. Telephone static, small talk. Right now, daily life is still sometimes the king of melodrama—pop radio has your name in every song. Always someone “falling in love.” I’ve stumbled into it a few times. But falling? Not often but I fell hard, lost track of which direction was up. I still remember the song, the blue dress, the mirrors, the moment—still as a photograph, still as calm water.

***

Amidst the consistent dinging of the microwaves, the off-kilter beat of the roller grill, the shushing of the soda machines—amidst this noise, I laugh along with her and hide the drop in my stomach that comes from the sudden thought of you.

***

Years from today, I will surface into a life where you are a memory that occasionally drops a Like onto my Facebook feed. Where you will post pictures of your baby and I will offhandedly wonder where your husband is in all of the photos. A life where you are a name that surfaces only occasionally and never in that choking-on-your-own-breath-in-your-throat sort of way. Years from now, I know that we will each be forgotten like that. But right now, the barbs of that statement; how you were the only one, the only one at all that knew where I put me. This is how it catches me—in these innocuous moments when I otherwise believe that I have moved on.  These moments when I need to be reminded.

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C.C. Russell has been published here and there across the web and in print. You can find his words in such places as Split Lip Magazine, The Colorado Review, Cimarron Review, and the anthology Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone. He has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, and the Pushcart Prize. He currently resides in Wyoming with a couple of people and a couple of cats. You can find more of his work at ccrussell.net