Megan Collins

Other registers were open, but I got in line behind the bride. I hadn’t expected to need these purchases again, but when I saw her—buying two six-packs, hair uncurling, gaze hauntingly hollow—I was almost okay with having started bleeding. It was possible, I thought, that the two of us were meant to stand in line together.

Clearly something terrible had happened, some unbearable disappointment, her wedding canceled at the very last minute. She’d probably cry for the rest of the day, her white dress like a second skin she wanted to burn right off.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

“Hmm?” She blinked at me as the cashier handed her a receipt. I gestured towards her dress.

“Oh… No—you’re so sweet! No, my daughter’s at a princess party, and—ugh—the parents have to wear costumes, too.” She rolled her eyes. “This was all I had. But—” She raised her six-packs as if making a toast. “I have these now too! One of the mothers sent me out to get them.”

She whispered the next part. “We’re gonna sneak them during cake.”

Smiling wide, she turned to leave, and I saw that her dress didn’t zip all the way.

“I’m sorry,” the cashier said to me.

“Hmm?” I blinked at her, and she nodded towards my purchases. Tampons. Ovulation tests. Tissues. I noticed for the first time that her hand rested on her belly.

“Oh… No,” I said. “You’re so sweet. No. I’m okay. Thanks. No.”

Megan Collins, whose work can be found in many journals, teaches creative writing at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and is Managing Editor of 3Elements Review.

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