I saw you counting today, over and over again the ritualized touching of each item as it was placed on the conveyer belt. Lips moving as you lightly brushed the metal of the cart and darting glance of your fingers over each of the things in front of you.
Hesitation your hand hovered as you reached for what must come next, what order must it go in, a deep breath, fingers clenching tightly no no you must count it’s important.
You watched as the cashier filled the bags, 5 in one 7 in another for the total of 12. A last minute grab at a pack of gum, a seemingly random selection to make the total 13 I wonder; perhaps the total has to add up to an even number 1 + 2 make 13 but 1 + 3 make 14.
You make your way out of the store, plaid jacket buttoned against the cold evening wind I wonder if you count the long steps home.