I find a pair of shoes I like and ask to try them on.
The clerk says she doesn't carry half sizes
So I choose the next one up,
Which turns out to be too big.
I request the next size down, but
She frowns at me
While balancing six boxes that no one wanted.
I say, I'm sure they will fit.
She sighs world weariness and says OK.
After a long time she emerges from the back with my shoes.
She hands me the box with an expression that begs for acceptance,
Silently imploring me to buy them without trying them on
So she doesn't have to pack them up and lug them away.
The shoes are much too snug but I don't have the
Heart not to buy them.
Maybe I can squeeze into them a few times and so get use out of them.
I'll take them, I say, but she seems to know they don't fit.
She says, You don't have to.
I say, They fit really well and they're perfect and
I wouldn't have found them without your help.
I can tell she sees right through me.
Please don't buy them on my account, she says,
I really couldn't handle that today.
I try to convince her but she pulls the shoes away from me and puts them on a tall pile to be returned to inventory later.
She says, I don't always act this way.
I don't say anything else.
Neither does she.
I walk away but immediately try to think of an excuse to go back that won't make her feel pitied.
I want to save her from having to kneel in front of people,
Smell their socks,
Spend hours standing on ladders, searching for shoes.
Is there a way to engage her without making her feel worse?
I wander aimlessly around the store for a few minutes but soon return to the shoe department.
She's vanished, along with my dreams of deliverance.

 © Poem Fix 2012
Photo by How can I recycle this?

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