By Kaci Skiles Laws

December 5, 2022


A woman scrunches up her nose. I follow her gaze to my five-year-old son, oblivious to her, picking out his favorite Zevia. He grabs a root beer; she sneers, makes a sideways comment, her husband laughs, and I catch his eye. I brush it off and smile because I have a choice. My first option is to let my insecurity tell me a story about the couple at the store: It's my son's hair. It’s his clothes. It’s the ringworm on his cheek he got from our kitten. It’s about us. Something mean.

I walk to the checkout, and another story crops up: We were standing by the stinky cheese. She told her husband how much she hates bleu cheese. Her husband laughed and took an opportunity to check out my ass because I forgot to pull my sweater over my tights.

Then another story: It’s not about my son. But the woman commented on how my ass is hanging out and how trashy. Between each story my son and I discuss flavors of off-brand Chapstick, what chapped lips are, why it’s taking so long, how hard it is to wait. It helps me forget the stories because it’s likely they’re all untrue. The toddler in front of us cries, and the cashier hands him a sticker. My son says, “Babies cry. He probably wants milk.” He places his root beer on the conveyor belt and says, “Babies can’t drink root beer.” The cashier smiles and I know why.

Kaci Skiles Laws is a closet cat-lady and creative writer who reads and writes voraciously in the quiet moments between motherhood and managing Crohn's Disease. Her debut book of poetry, Strange Beauty, is available on Amazon, as well as her most recent collection of poetry and prose, Summer Storms

Image by Eduardo Soares courtesy of Unsplash

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