Pamela is tall. But not that tall. And her arms are long. But not that long. She’s at Lowe’s trying to reach a stack of roach motels shoved to the back of a high shelf. There are only 4 packages upfront. She grabs them. But she needs more. At least three more. She looks around. No Lowe’s employee in sight to help her. But there is a man pushing his cart toward her. He stops to study bags of fire ant killer. Pamela studies him. Yes, he will do. “You’re tall,” she says. He looks up, a blank expression on his face. Not the reaction she usually receives, but she’s desperate. “You’ve got long arms,” she says. Now he looks frightened. Before he can wheel his cart around and bolt for the door, she continues, “Can you reach that stack of roach motels in the back of this shelf for me? I need three more, and my arms are too short to reach them.” He still looks uncertain, so she stands on tiptoe and points to the stack. Hesitantly, he moves out from behind the safety of his shopping cart, easily reaches the roach motels, selects three, and hands them to her. “Thank you so much!” she exclaims. Still not a peep out of him. Not even a smile. No problem. She turns and heads toward the registers. No one can dampen her spirits today. She just moved into a new apartment in a new city to start a new job on Monday. She may be fifty, but it’s never too late to start over. To leave her hopelessly troubled marriage behind. To create a new life from scratch. Walking across the parking lot to her car, Pamela looks up at the mountains that frame the city, still tinted blue with morning mist. “I think I’m going to like this place,” she says. She begins to laugh. She can’t help it. This must be what it feels like to finally be released. No longer frightened. Free. At last.
Laura Stamps is the author of several poetry and fiction books: THE YEAR OF THE CAT, IN THE GARDEN, CAT DAZE, TUNING OUT, and more. Winner of the Muses Prize. Recipient of a Pulitzer Prize nomination and 7 Pushcart Prize nominations. Mom of 5 cats. Twitter: @LauraStamps16. Website: www.laurastampspoetry.blogspot.com