Everyone showed up the day they opened the supermarket.
The mayor made a speech and cut a large strip of ribbon,
And everyone marveled at the fact that they had a mayor and ribbon they could afford to waste again.
Some cried, men and women alike.
Others held their families close, whether or not they were physically present,
And let this safer, happier phase of life begin.
The woman stood near the front of the crowd,
Thinking to herself about the old days,
Before these new days,
And the days that had come in between.
She remembered the old days well,
As they really weren’t all that long ago,
When a supermarket wouldn’t have drawn crowds,
Or occasional blackouts when the power supply was low.
She remembered walking through far larger stores,
Huffing with impatience at a slow walker,
Or letting out a sigh when her preferred brand of trail mix wasn’t in stock.
She also remembered stabbing a man in the throat,
During the period that had come after the tanks but before the bombs,
When for the third time the world had nearly destroyed itself.
Funny, the way that could happen.
Now she wandered the aisles with the survivors,
Searching for foods she hadn’t eaten in years,
And wondering what the point of it all was,
If there even was a point.
Once she’d had a life, a career.
Then she’d had the kind of life that,
Depending on the day,
She recalled with either complete clarity,
Or through a dreamlike haze.
Now she had a life that involved scoping out exit routes everywhere she went,
One that was apparently safe,
One that she’d discovered could end at any time.
She heard people talk about how much they’d learned,
What hard times uncovered about life and themselves.
What had she learned?
She approached the cash registers,
Where some still grinned and cried as they waited on line.
She hadn’t found any Graham crackers,
But she did discover a small package of saltines.
Not what she’d come for,
But enough for now.