An excerpt of Chicken and Stars, which was published by Echo Literary Magazine, the Liberal Arts Honors Literary Journal at the University of Texas at Austin.
My toes are becoming numb and the injured one has stopped throbbing. He doesn’t know I adopted the dog he wanted or that sometimes I wake up with damp eyes or that I saw one of his doctors in a coffee shop just after I almost lost him and nearly asked the man if he remembered James Darby. Instead, I had fiddled with the lid of my cup and watched blue scrubs disappear through the door.
“I should probably check out. My parents will wonder what happened,” he says.
“Yeah, I should go, too.”
And then we are walking together. A container of laundry detergent has spilled in Aisle 8, and fresh cotton scent is everywhere. Halfway to the glowing lights of the Express Lane, he drops the Cokes beside a can of Chicken and Stars in my cart. His fingers move mine from the plastic grooves of the red handle. I step aside as he guides the basket toward the conveyor belt. The cashier frowns at her keypad. James begins unloading.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Seriously, I can get it. You should go home.”
“Just let me do this for you.”
There is no response. He pays for the groceries.