Five second memory

He stood there, staring at the shelves. Choices: vanilla, chocolate, caramel, coconut, sweet cream, mint, toasted marshmallow… He wasn’t even sure what he was here for. He didn’t put creamer into his coffee and no one had told him anything other than “pick up some creamer”, leaving him with the terrible choice of picking one of these that all of his roommates would agree upon. Regular vanilla seemed like the safest bet. On the other hand, if he picked something like mint and some people hated it, then maybe no one would ask him to do this again. At least, not without further clarification.

Opening the case, he reached for one of the creamers for something to collide into the back of his legs. He pitched forward into the selection, catching himself with his palm pressed against the window of the case door. Irritated, he wheeled about to complain to face the shopping cart that had hit him. No one was there. At least, not that he noticed at first. Narrowing his eyes on the little hands gripping onto the handlebar. Peering around, he looked at the little girl hanging off the cart, feet up on the bottom basket. “Where’re your parents?” he asked her.

“Buying the store,” the girl responded. “Now I’m buying macaroni and cheese.”

“Buying a lot of groceries? And you’re running your cart into people?”

“No!” she protested. “Just you.”

“And?” Prompting children into apologies wasn’t his forte, but without a parent around to take responsibility he felt like he should try.

“And no one else! You were just suddenly there!”

He chuckled. “Not that. If you run into someone, what do you say?”

She looked up at him, sticking her lower lip out slightly. Then she smiled. “Hello!”

He couldn’t help but laugh again. “Not that kind of run into. When you hit someone, accident or on purpose, what do you say?”

That made her pout, but she answered more promptly this time. “Sorry.”

“That’s okay. Thank you.” The girl gave him an odd look, but then she broke out into another toothy grin and rolled her cart away. He watched her go before turning back to pick out a creamer.

In a related development, the girl continued to run her cart into more people, apologizing after each.

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