Andrea Salvador

Shopping List for Hard Times

There was some shopping to do, Eve convinced herself, before you burst.

How else would you entertain yourself afterward? When the tears dried, when your chest stopped hitching, and you realized that someone was dying thousands of miles away? You couldn’t just sit there. Eve shuddered at the idea — no. You had to busy yourself and make the breakdown your stage.

Eve selected the cleanest shopping cart and pushed it through the first lane. Keeping in mind her budget, she selected an assortment of snacks: a carton of low-fat milk, a tiny box of cereal, and a box of oatmeal cookies. Eve threw in a bag of chips to complement the sweetness.

In the next lanes, she found a pack of lavender-scented tissue paper, a bar of papaya soap, and a back issue of some gossip magazine.

As she reached the counter, which was humming from the usual cohort of middle-aged women or rushing schoolmates, Eve took a bottle of blue and gold glitter, along with a tube of eyelash glue, for good measure.

The woman in front of her took a decade to spill everything from her cart. Eve even watched her scramble and run back to the meat station after realizing she’d chosen the wrong cut of chicken.

The cashier scanned Eve’s things with an apologetic look on her face.

“There,” Eve desperately wanted to say. “I’m going to a sleepover. I have friends and they love me. They love me for who I am, and that’s why I’m going to sleep over in their house tonight.” But her mother told her to not speak if all that came out were lies. Her father told her to go right ahead, but she didn’t believe anything he said, not anymore.

“Thanks,” Eve said instead, taking her change from the cashier and sliding the plastic bag’s handles over her wrist.

At home, Eve settled herself on her bathroom floor. She almost smiled at how picturesque it must have looked but the harsh pang in her chest stopped her.

Instead, she stuffed her trash bag with the receipt and plastic packaging of the items she’d just bought. She spread them around her, scrutinizing each item as the well inside her grew deeper. The colors all meant to evoke a sense of calm — Eve had studied that in her marketing class — but her mind was just spinning.

Like a top that had been let go too soon. The fast rise and the even faster fall.

It was not feeling dizzy. This was why she no longer went to the school clinic, with the nurse trying to suppress a sigh every time Eve explained so. This was why she didn’t lie down and close her eyes — she needed to keep moving. Moving meant trying to regain balance, no matter how long it took.

It would come any second now: the rush, the river, the rage.

Eve pasted glitter on her eye bags. She watched them sparkle for a brief second, under the harsh white light, before they slid and rolled down her cheeks. The tears came and didn’t stop. But they looked beautiful, and that made Eve feel better.

Just a bit.

Andrea Salvador lives somewhere in Asia, specifically a country with thousands of islands and constantly humid weather. She is a self-proclaimed writer with a liking towards creating lists, watching sci-fi movies, and rearranging her bookshelf. You can check out her portfolio here.

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