about the author

Maggie Desmond-O’Brien likes words. Sometimes she writes words down. She is a sporadic columnist at Recess Magazine, and blogs about books and life at maggiesbookshelf.blogspot.com. She lives in Minnesota, where she can usually be found at the library.

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Fairytale in a Supermarket

Maggie Desmond-O’Brien

Once upon this time there is a barely-woman who used to be a girl. You know her, you have since grade school. She is the bored one, the put-upon; she checks the nectarines for bruising before leaving them in the bin. She is home from college for the summer, shopping for her parents. You know her parents. You know they live in the Victorian house on the river with the tower and the library built right in, small-town white trash that think they’re all that, but you worship them anyway because they are the closest thing you know to royalty. The daughter is worshipped and despised by turns, because she, too, represents something as intangible and untouchable as college, as unfuckable in your world as a Victoria’s Secret model. She will get her Charming in the end, and you, kid, are no Charming.

But as you push your cart through the frozen foods, you are battling these frost giants for her, for her, as she bends over right in front of you to reach the frozen yogurt in the chest freezer. She runs a hand through her hair and you expect pearls and diamonds to fall through her fingers, clattering on cheap linoleum.

You realize that you are staring, that you are no longer following your yellow-legal-pad-list that says milk, butter, bread, instant coffee, powdered sugar donuts (day-olds); but rather the scent of her like rose bowers and lilac fairies.

You make yourself walk on.

You see her again at the supermarket check-out. She pays with her daddy’s checkbook, but bags her own groceries. You dream of white horses and castles; your smooth pick-up line.

“You dropped this,” you will say, while pressing your number into her hands. You will rescue this woman from herself. You will tell your friends what it was like to fuck a princess, a college girl, the one you all have loved since grade school. You will be not just a human, but an archetype.

But there is so much distance between you. The words don’t come. She bags the last item (red apples, organic). She walks on.

You watch her go. You unload your cart onto the counter, and all the while you are watching her go.

She walks through automatic doors and into the parking lot, alone.

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