July 12, 2002

i’m standing in line at rite-aid, getting an assortment of provisions like shampoo, ziploc bags and a new dish-washing sponge. the checker has ringlets of black hair that frame her round, shiny face, and i say hello and ask how she’s doing. they aren’t words i just say, like hello or what’s up. i mean it, and i am glad that she answers my question with more than the usual “good.”

“it’s not as hot as it’s been,” she says, “and you know why i can tell?”

“why?” i ask and look at the gray skies behind her.

“because nobody’s in here buying ice cream,” she says and smiles.

her nametag says melrose and i think about the television show and the strip known for shopping and ask her if she was named after the street but she says no.

“it’s a pretty name, anyway,” i say.

–rite-aid, strip mall, the valley


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