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So Much Everything photo

White light from the television brought me here.

Everything in this store is very far away from everything else in this store.

I pass razors and products containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine secured behind a screen of Plexiglas. The Plexiglas prevents people from making methamphetamines or stealing razors to sell on eBay. I pass bleach, turpentine, steak knives, fireworks, butane and tequila. I encounter a repetitious pattern of toilet paper paper plates toilet paper paper plates toilet paper paper plates. Then cotton balls. Cotton balls are the fabric of our lives, my mother once told me this.

A saxophone version of “I Will Always Love You” plays from an invisible audio system and I rest my head against a fortification of factory-wrapped diapers. I listen to every sound at once. The person who chooses the satellite radio station in this store is not in this store. The person who chooses the satellite radio station is at home or on a safari in Kenya. He has several sons, a large swimming pool and diamond-encrusted Crocs.

This store is full of food and there’s no smell in this store.

I pass towers of canned kidney beans and soups before discovering an aisle called Ethnic. Ethnic is full of fibromyalgics and Old El Paso products. The most expensive Old El Paso product is The Enchilada Dinner Kit which includes golden corn tortillas, oozing cheese and a mouth-watering tomato sauce. It is flavored in a Mexican way. The Chinese foods are here too, but they are less erotic and not as popular.

I find the foot-and-leg shelves, which are stocked with products to treat the pain and small lesions incurred by wearing shoes or becoming old. The products on the foot-and-leg shelves are for removing skin from feet by shaving it off, scraping it off, making it soft until it falls off or burning it off with a clear chemical paint. It is illegal to not wear shoes in this store or any other store in this state. I select an egg-shaped container of skin-colored fabric to stretch over my legs for decency or camouflage. I think, keep your hose in check.

I pass cereal boxes promoting interracial friendships or interracial breakfast appointments between men and women of approximately the same age. My brain performs impressive feats of abstraction. A steatopygic woman opens the caps on moisturizing lotions sniffs them and puts them back on the wrong shelves. She selects a whipped body mousse with a shimmering agent. The whipped body mousse smells of communal showers and girls in wet underpants. I make a series of nuanced emotional judgments about sweat control. I look at prices. I think, cash rules everything around me. I search for cream.

The worst thing about this store is that it is crawling with gerontophiles. The gerontophiles lurk about, caressing the elbows of other gerontophiles. I join them in the check-out but avoid confronting the intricacies of their skin and hair. Someone called Mercedes rings me up and someone called Andrew puts my items in yellow plastic bags. Andrew says “Pepsi-Cola” three times and laughs like a madman. I inquire about paying with a credit card and Mercedes makes a face to let me know I suffer from an illness like stupidity. Andrew says, “grapefruit Sunday! grapefruit Sunday!” and grins about something I don’t understand. A pair of automated doors glide open and I step into a parking lot where the sun is brown and hot and the thought of carrying two yellow bags to the car makes me tired and annoyed. I eat two chocolate bars and throw the wrappers on pavement. By the time I reach home it’s dark and I can’t remember what happened between the store and my house.

It carries on like this for months. I’m in the store or I’m not in the store. In and then not. In and then not until everything I need is in the store and I can’t remember things outside the store because they don’t matter. I lose my old memories and build new ones. I dread the part where the doors slide open and the brown sun and parking lots are still there.

image: Heather reynolds