No one else in the store. Just Mama, Daughter, store owner, me.
The daughter is a youngish thing, belly slack from teen pregnancies, sporting an unapologetic black eye. A catfight, a man, a door, something. Lots of reasons to have a shiner and no real reason to cover it up. While I wait in line she steals a toy and sees me watching as she sticks it under her shirt. She doesn’t care. This is what we do. So what.
The store owner lady takes a step back from Mama and toward her cash register. She’s got Christmas light earrings shaking slightly below permed hair and her sweatshirt has a Jesus fish pinned next to silver baby feet. They both float just above her heart. This isn’t the kind of customer she thought about when she dreamed the baby consignment shop with its plush infant baubles and tiny Easter dresses hanging just so on the racks. Like a year-round church-basement baby shower. Not today.
Mama’s tired of waiting so she heaves the lawn-and-leaf bag on the counter and dumps it out fast. A small mountain of dusty baby clothes, and from the middle an unopened can of powdered baby formula falls out and rolls against the daughter’s foot. When the girl and her black eye bend down to get it, she pulls the stolen baby toy out of her pocket and places both on top of the clothes. Here, mama. These fell out.
Mama is tweaking and and scratching her arms and looks ready to get loud when the bell over the shop door tinkles a bit. They all turn and look at me, but I’m still there.