Where Reality and Fantasy Blur

  Issue 8, January 2011

The List: Listen to Robert Eccles read this story

The List
By Salena Casha

A young woman, about to embark on the journey of her life, was given a choice. She could enter the store before her to collect everything she needed to prepare for the years ahead or she could soldier on into the unknown with nothing but her God-given body. She reached into her pocket and unfolded the creased page of her grocery list.

A Hallmark card from her childhood sweetheart
A disposable kiss
A Band-Aid for her broken heart
A golden star for her English paper
Wax to emboss her degree
Shoe inserts for her office walk
A mistaken email
Chamomile tea
Coffee from a stranger
A forgotten date
An alarm clock set five minutes ahead
A rose from a florist
A dream catcher
A lottery ticket
The illusion of chance
A man's business shirt
Cologne for her skin
Invitations smelling of bouquets, rings, and garters
A Pina Colada on a Caribbean beach
Lotion to make her glow
Baby's breath
A can of tears
A lipstick kiss
Melons for her husband
A fire extinguisher
His mistress's lingerie
Happy meals
The expensive slacks of a divorce lawyer
A sliver of moonlight
Martini umbrellas
The light of fireflies
The yellow paint of a school bus
Pills to stop the tears
Pills to ward off death
Pills to teach her how to smile again
An empty house
A box of sunshine
Pens to sign her given name
A chair for her secretary seat
A Christmas card from her ex-husband
Lilies for her parents' graves
Buttons on a doctor's coat
A wig for her naked scalp
Worry beads
Valentines for her son's family
Post-it reminders of her broken one
The whisky of her sister's car accident
The numbness of Novocain
A broken clock
The seeping memory of hot tea
Oil to dull her movements
Spectacles for her cataracts
Heaviness for her heart
A rosary for her sins

She paused and wondered if she could find the priest who would administer her last rites by the lamb in the meat section or near the angel food cake. Glancing up at the looming storefront, she felt her heart sink, her eyes tracing the path of the unknown. She could avoid the knowledge, never see the list again, never recall what it felt like to hold her entire life in the palm of her hand on a wrinkled sheet of paper. But the store lights blinked and sizzled before her, their glow wrapping her body in a familiar embrace, whispering in her ear that it wasn't all set in stone, that only the ignorant dismissed knowledge of this kind. No, silly girl, she scolded herself. The priest is probably kept by the paperback Bibles. With that, she stepped through the doors.


Salena Casha is a sophomore English major at Middlebury College in Vermont. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Medulla Review, Foundling Review, Niteblade Magazine, Divine Dirt Quarterly, With Painted Words, Patchwork Paths, Writers' Bloc, The Shine Journal, and others. She loves chocolate chips and rewriting the future.