What I Learned Sacking Groceries

On my first day of work I wore a white
t-shirt, red bow tied in my ponytail
to match the logo of the grocery store.
I watched a cashier scan the goods and tried
to sack them just as fast. He looked my age,
sixteen, was tall with bony wrists, the name
Jerry embroidered on his shirt. First day?
he asked, still staring at the register.
Yes sir.
He smiled, his braces shone beneath
florescent lights. He scanned a bag of pears,
some toilet paper, then a jumbo box
of Trojans. Blushing pink, he shoved them in
a grocery bag and stared down at his feet
to keep from looking at the man who’d bought
the things.
A jumbo pack, puhleez! I scoffed
and laughed once he had walked away. I heard
footsteps, the heavy clicks of boots on tiles.
I turned and saw the boss – his stomach bulged
over the buckle of his belt.
Hey girl,
you wanna grab lunch after work? he asked.
I sneered, snapped gun between my glossy lips.

Uh, no. I turned to Jerry, rolled my eyes.
He bit his bottom lip, tried not to grin.
The thunder clapped, and then a pattering
of rain.
It’s your turn to collect the carts.
The boss then took a long glance at my chest.

I’ll do it, Jerry offered, but the boss
just shook his head and smirked.
 She needs to learn,
he whistled as he walked away. Outside,
I pushed the carts as told. The rain poured down.
I sloshed in puddles, t-shirt, damp and white,
stuck to my skin. The boss was watching me
so I assumed the stance of banished Eve --
a downturned gaze, a pair of rosy cheeks,
my free arm laid across my chest to hide
the shameful nakedness that’s underneath,
wet ponytail drooped against my nape.

—Katherine Hoerth, Edinburg, TX