alone.

ah, fucking terrific. they’re out of my coffee. what else is new? anne said, a little too loud, to herself. she was alone, not entirely surprising.

anne wasn’t having a good day, though i’m reticent to remember when last she had one. when asked if she wanted to go out to the store with mum, her daughter april wisely stayed home.

no, i’m okay, she said. i gotta do some writing anyway.

her mom gave her that look, the one where her lips pouted and her left eyebrow raised. uh huh, sure, she said. april returned her mothers look with a look of her own, though this one was at least pretending to be pleasant. she just smiled. her mom left the room in a huff. april sighed, relieved.

last time april went to the store with her mom, anne threw a fit because the checkout lines were too long. what’s the hurry? april asked. are you going anywhere?

my time is just as valuable as the rest of these people, april. i’d rather not stand around like an asshole. anne said that last word a bit too loud, and april cringed and subconsciously tried to hide herself from the view of any other shoppers who’d absolutely heard her mother.

oh jesus christ, calm down, april said, making sure not to be too loud. it’s saturday. people are shopping. just please be quiet.

anne looked at her daughter with rage in her eyes. april knew what was coming, so she raised her right hand to her fuming mother and said she’d wait outside. anne didn’t answer.

that was last time. now, anne was alone to antagonize whomever she thought deserved it. and now, she had a specific item in mind that she couldn’t quite find.

hey, buddy, red shirt, she said to an employee who was helping another customer. he looked at her, visibly confused, and patiently said he’d be with her in a moment – he was clearly with someone.

she rolled her eyes.

first the coffee, and now this kid can’t help me.

i’m sorry about that, ma’am. how can i help you? the employee said.

well, it’s not a big deal, but i just realized you guys don’t carry any cloth coasters. is that right?

the kid looked confused again. she picked up on it like a dog to a scent. she’d have fun with him.

cloth coasters? uh, if we had em, they’d be right over here. he started walking over toward the kitchen supplies and she followed, her nose up in the air.

yeah, i checked here. nothing. she folded her arms.

what he wanted to ask was why the hell would you purchase a cloth coaster. he wanted to remind her that coasters are there for one reason and that’s so the heat, or cold, or condensation from a cup or mug doesn’t touch the table. if the coaster is made of cloth, there’s really nothing but light fabric between the heat, or cold, or dampness of the fucking cup.

but he said that he could double check for her. she said good.

he pulled out a device from his pocket and frustratingly moved his thumbs over the screen’s keyboard. ah, no shit, he thought. no cloth coasters.

yeah, i’m sorry, it doesn’t look like we sell anything like that. is there anything – she cut him off.

what do you mean ‘we don’t sell anything like that’? it’s a coaster. i just wanted some cloth ones. surely you guys would have that.

i checked in the system and these are the only kinds of coasters we sell. these five fucking normal hard cardboard or stone coasters, he thought. the only kind anyone would ever fucking sell. but he would never say that out loud.

i’m sorry, that’s just kind of ridiculous – yeah, sure you’re sorry, he thought.

again, i’m sorry. maybe amazon sells them. he didn’t know why he kept trying to help her.

yeah, they probably do. i shouldn’t have wasted my time here. you weren’t much help either. she gave him a once-over with her hard eyes and embraced the pain he felt. she felt a bit better about herself. she was better than this kid. this infinitesimal minimum-wage-earning employee.

he backed off, muttered something, and quickly walked away. she thought she saw the glimmer of a tear in his eye and smiled.

she was alone in this world. that much was known. she walled herself in, and fed off of the discomfort of other people. but worse than that, she genuinely thought she was better than everyone else. her public outbursts were due to her incessant need for public satisfaction – but not the satisfaction of the public, rather her satisfaction of being seen.

what she didn’t realize was that people regularly laughed at her. they laughed at her attention gathering, and the pomp in her step. they laughed because they saw her, a lonely cretin looking to take out her pain and suffering on anyone she could.

the worst thing this woman could do was be rude and belittling. little did she know, she was doing people a favor. you see a miserable wretch and thank your stars you aren’t like that. you become glad that you can see humanity in others. you don’t empathize with her, because you’d never treat someone like that, but you almost sympathize.

you know that it hurts to be alone.

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