Silent Shopping

Silent Shopping

A Story by Christine

A short story I'm working on. It's clearly not long enough or quite developed yet, but I'd like some feedback.


Shopping. All men hate shopping.


I could say that, but it wouldn’t necessarily be true. Would it? All men don’t always hate shopping. I certainly don’t. Not today.


But most men hate shopping. Especially when their girlfriends drag them along, insisting on asking for opinions that they don’t have (and even if they did have them, they would be wrong anyways). Then, almost always, arguments about unspeakably high prices ensue, words are exchanged, and shoes are thrown.  What’s the point?




Time is the point. It isn’t the act of buying, watching her try on dress after dress while insisting they are all different colors (though they aren’t), or carrying her bags from store to store. It’s the time you are spending. The time you are sharing. The time you are there, in each other’s presence, just being alive.


Time is important.


But I’ve recently noticed that next to no one on this planet has any concept of how important time is. Especially Mel. Mel never had any sense of how important time is. She lived without a clock ticking in the back of her mind. Then again, maybe she understood time better than anyone.


“What about this one?” she asked, caressing the blue silk.


“It seems strange”, the words came from me as if I hadn’t said them.


“You’re right. It’s sad, too depressing, a bit blue, isn’t it?” a joke. It was always jokes with Mel. Even while shopping, which I assumed most women found as serious as the grave, she joked.


“No. Not the color. This. This is strange.”


“What? The gold? I was thinking the same thing. Silver accents would be better for my skin tone”, she leaned closer to the accents, examining herself. Sighing, and knowing that we were going nowhere serious anytime soon, it was decided that I would play along.


“Clearly the silver suits you, Mel. You are a winter, the gold would simply make you look ill. Wash you out, even” the gleam in her eye, knowing I was playing her game now, was unmistakable. She laughed with her head back, her whole body alive. She leapt from each display to the next with more glee than this place had probably ever seen.


“Glad you’re seeing it my way darling!” her hands draped almost lovingly over the displays she favored. Her fingers danced over the designs with delight.


“What do you think of the black, dearest?” I motioned to the piece nearest my left. Her nose wrinkled in disgust.


“It’s too macabre! Too obvious! And the metal, it’s too- too-“


“Cold.” We said in unison. She laughed. I winced.


“This will be the liveliest party this town has ever seen! I shall be stunning, I’m sure,” she had taken a liking to a white taffeta fabric that complemented her incredibly fair skin.


“Undoubtedly, my dear. You’ll knock them dead.”


“Now tell me love, does the mahogany say ‘She was too young Larry! She had so much to offer the world!’?” Mel always had a touch for the dramatic, though she would have died at the idea of being called a drama queen.


“Indubitably. But the pine seems to complement your ideal of youth more easily” I cringed at my own words, though her game was becoming intoxicating. It was no longer about the displays, the decisions, the shopping, or the time. It was about her scene. Her idea. Her vision.


“The pine is too blasé. There’s no emotion behind it. I want a wood that creates legends, tells stories, and whispers secrets into the attendees’ ears. I want them prickling, with fear or anticipation, I’m not sure which. But I want a simple shock to ignite the room, not a sweaty reception of sobbing, gloomy grievers!” she’s lost. Spinning in her own world, her own universe. Too far gone to be brought back now.


A thick, yellow smog of silence tightened around my throat. It was hot. Too hot for a place so cold. Mel’s eyes were closed as she spun, otherwise she would have noticed. She would have noticed that this was crazy. She would have noticed that she was out of her mind. She would have noticed that we were running out of time. But her eyes were closed.


They look the same even now.


Now. Now as she lays near the blue silk she caressed, in the mahogany she embraced. The coffin she had picked for this day. Her eyes are closed, with a smirk fixed neatly on her lips, amongst an otherwise immobilized expression.


Just as she looked that day. The day we shopped for funeral favors. The day when we still had time.


Just as if she would open her eyes again. Just as if we had more time. But the time is gone. The time has run out. The precious, sacred time slipped through my fingers like sand.


Time always had a different meaning to Mel. It was never important to her. Never precious. Never planned. I think she might have known all along. No one could live that way and not know. She must have known. But if she did, I hated her.


I hated her.


Hated that she let me follow her. Let me hold her. Let me love her. All the time knowing she would leave me. Alone. Knowing she would die at twenty-three without a simple apology. Knowing that her time was limited.


Knowing her time was gone.


Time was everything. I hadn’t had enough. I didn’t have a say. I didn’t even have a choice. The keeper of time gave me enough to go shopping, but not enough for my plan. Enough to find the girl, but not enough to marry her. Enough to find the love of my life, but not enough to tell her.


No. There was never enough time to tell her. But she knew.


She always knew.


She knew I would love her. She knew she would die. But she didn’t know how far it had gone, how far I was gone. She never would.


But she had planned it all perfectly. The blue silk was just right. The mahogany filled her wake’s attendees with electric energy. Her stories were told. She’d died as a legend; too young, all agreed. And the secrets were just beginning to circulate as she’d hoped. But I couldn’t stay.


I needed to say goodbye. And then I needed to leave. Just as she had left me.


A final look at her closed eyes told me one thing: the silver accents were perfect. They even matched the ring I silently slipped on her left hand before I exited silently.


 Just as silently as I came in.



© 2012 Christine

Author's Note

Honesty, as always.

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Added on November 18, 2012
Last Updated on November 18, 2012
Tags: dark humor, death, love, loss



Laramie, WY

I'm twenty. That's too old for childish things and too young to drink your problems into bliss. So I chose to write instead. more..