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an anomaly

By Erin SheaPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 2 min read
Photo by Elia Pellegrini on Unsplash

$10.13 an hour

15 hours a week

Your run-of-the-mill retail job

My very first job.

I was 17

And weekday closing shifts were my favorite.

I liked when the store was simply dead

Those quiet hours -


Leaning against the counter

Scribbling on post-it notes.

The cash register would auto-log me out

Being long void of a customer.


It was one of those weekday nights

a Monday or Tuesday

Perhaps a Thursday

When he appeared

This long-awaited customer

An anomaly.

A reason for me to log back in.

It was nearly closing time

and all my coworkers were in the break room.

It was glaringly intimate

under the fluorescent ceiling lights.


I reluctantly admit

that I can no longer recall a unified image of his face.

My visual memory fails me.

At night,

I still try and conjure him up

out of dark space

before I nod off to sleep.

It's a futile effort.

Even with my eyes closed,

my vision plays tricks on me.


All I know

is his face was the kind that required a professional headshot.

He looked like a potential actor or a businessman.


His mien was calm and joyful in synchronicity.

And the potency of his eyes was startling.

Sometimes such a direct gaze in a stranger is offputting

but his was endearing.


The Pin Pad beeped

and he removed his card

But then decided to linger

Plastic bag swaying by his knee

idling by the automatic door

just to talk to me

to keep me company.

He asked what I wanted to do with my life.

I replied that I wanted to be a writer.

Matching his eyes,

I saw that he believed in my answer,

my aspiration.

He believed in me.


That was love condensed to an instance

one moment

tangible but transient

beautiful because I knew we'd never meet eyes again.

Even then

I had this thing about romanticized longing

a dreamy fixation on unfinished stories...


Before parting,

he said that he'd always look for my name on the bookshelves.

I beamed

We shook hands

and locked eyes once again.

Then off he went

A lone figure in the deserted parking lot.


Nearly five years have passed

but I never forgot his gaze

and how its anonymity warmed me,

assured me,

inspired me.

I never forgot the way he conducted himself,

and how our smiles seemed to feed off one another.

He reminded me

that love could be

how I always wanted it to be:


sad poetry

About the Creator

Erin Shea

New Englander

Living with Lupus and POTS

Lover of Language, Cats, Tea, and Rainy Days.

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