July Flash Fiction: Getting Through the Day by Robert Earle

 

Getting Through the Day
Robert Earle

Bored stiff, she pulled cartons of yogurt out of a shipping box and put them in the cooler while repeatedly pushing the cooler’s door off her bum when it swung closed on her. Frequently, she had to scooch out of shoppers’ ways, one pair a young man followed by his gaunt, gray-haired father who apparently needed schooling. Had to be father and son given their jaws and ears, ears her erotic obsession. And this was the son in charge, the limping father silently taking note of everything the son said and chose—Vermont sharp cheddar, scones, and then, one cooler over, a small white jar of Devon cream.

So now she was doing what she was doing while glancing over her shoulder at them, the father perhaps not Alzheimer’s, instead a recent widower. That would be it, the ring on his finger notwithstanding. Couldn’t bear to take it off. Holding himself together. Intent upon his son telling him why Devon cream was called clotted, even though she saw he didn’t care. He just forced himself to listen as he shifted his weight from one leg to another, easing his aching knee. Then her eyes and his eyes nicked each other like two bits of gravel tossed up by a car on a country road, and she had to look away and find someone else to help her get through the day.

With more than 100 stories in print and online literary journals, Robert Earle is one of the more widely published contemporary short fiction writers in America. Vine Leaves Press published his story collection, She Receives the Night, in May, 2017. He also has published three novels and two books of nonfiction. He lives in North Carolina after a diplomatic career that took him to Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East.