Rock Dove

“Miss? ” His hand closes on my forearm. “You got time to help an old man? ”

It takes me a second to see it—his eyes are useless.

“Miss? ”

How can he tell I’m not a missus, a ma’am? Can they smell that deep?

He gives my arm a squeeze. “Hey.”

“Sure,” I say, a little too loudly. “Sure thing.”

The IGA is nothing special. The produce section is better than some—the local Greek widows see to that, shaking bunches of rapini, squeezing garlic bulbs in their fists. The place is Greek-run, but the staff is pretty much a mixed bag. The women behind the deli counter all sound like they come from Russia, or else one of those countries it swallowed and spat back out. They’re mostly older, but there’s one about my age, a skinny brunette whose name tag reads Tatiana. Her face makes me think of the Virgin. Not the dough-faced blonde, the black-haired Madonna with the mouth. When she holds up a slice of ham for my okay, I nod no matter what.

Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 3. Purchase the book to read the full piece.