She happened upon the shelves of baked grains before Preserved Provisions. The bread was packaged simply in plastic, among many neighbor loaves similarly smothered. “How odd for the baker not to have fresh wares,” Wil mused.
She selected for volume and price over quality, gently setting the loaf inside her wheeled carriage. She had been hasty on past excursions, paying for mishandling the cheap bread with a ruined, crumbled mass upon opening the bag at home.
Acquiring the soup was similarly perplexing. There were so many cans, lined and misaligned, in so many wrappings. Why is it all tinned? Why is a portion large enough for human consumption contained only within these over-large ‘Family Size’ tins?
Her wordless queries were left unanswered as she was distracted by the approach of a lanky, slouching youth of the male persuasion.
“Oh, dear,” Wil sighed.
“Hey Helm,” Lanky addressed Wil jeeringly. “Dad said you’d meet me at Checkout ten minutes ago. Let’s go!” He slumped his shoulders around inside his baggy coat to make it sit more comfortably on his bony frame.
Regaining some of her composure, Wil lifted her chin and deigned to retort, “I need no escort, and was preparing to return just now.”
He snorted, then gave her a sarcastic smile. “Dad actually said:” Here he dropped his tone a bit and continued, gruffly, “Tell Mina to stop skipping around the store, playing games, so you can buy the beer and we can go home!”
Wil flushed a bit, but knew a true lady of her situation would never allow emotions to show.
“I play no ‘games,’ and am prepared to pay as we speak. It is you who is delaying.” Wil told him.
“Yeah, whatever. Gimme the cart and let’s go.” He took the handle of her carriage brusquely, then set off at a pace intentionally faster than one she could match comfortably.
The cart wheel with its lopsided cycle caused a more erratic course at this speed, and Wil’s scarf came loose as she jogged a bit to keep up. It waved the length of her arm, and her boot squeaked audibly. Lanky’s coat edged up his arms and shoulders.
They reached the store registers quickly; Wil feeling disheveled and irritated. Her kingdom of lights glowing in shining floors, doors of possibilities, and subservient patrons still waited to serve with breathless anticipation.
“Paper or plastic?” A bored teenager asked her.