Summers in Orton

I park my five-speed and walk up the tired wooden steps of the general store. The dog snoozing on the porch acknowledges me with a perked ear. I wrap my finger around the little metal handle on the screen door and pull. It staggers open. I step inside, absorbing the pungent smell of old books, flour, and cardboard.

The "hello" I glance towards the person at the cash register is met with a friendly nod. "Hi, sweetie," my mom says. "How's your day going?"

To my right are the frosted doors of the drink cooler and the rainbow of popsicles in the freezer. I walk towards the back of the store at the protest of the ancient hardwood floor. Passing on the left are metal shelves filled with fuzzy peach candy and ketchup chips. I ponder what will earn my allowance this week.

Along the back wall is a small set of warped shelves full of VHS movies. The familiar names stick out: Big; Field of Dreams; Ace Ventura; Batman. I glance up at the shelf just out of reach. Schwarzenegger's dark glasses and cold red eye stare back. Hellraiser's grimace compels me to avert my gaze. I'm not ready.

I walk back to the front of the store, detouring through the snack aisle. I grab a bag of Hickory Sticks and measure three gummy worms out of their fishbowl container.

I spread my haul on the counter. The register clicks and grinds as it figures what I owe. I have just enough left over for a can of Dr. Pepper.

"See you at home later," says mom.

The screen door snaps closed as I hop down the steps. I saddle my bike and pedal along the packed dirt road towards home.

Written on May 18th, 2018