Doctor Pa’s Neighborhood Grocery

by Janice D. Soderling

The children call him Doctor Pa. The grown-ups use another name. Some say it is only a rumor. Others know better, but keep it to themselves.

The barber’s wife comes in with her little daughter. Everybody loves the girl, her father who works in his new barbershop in this new and friendly town loves her, her mother who is going to bake him a pie loves her, her new teacher smiles to hear the right answers. She crashes around like a June-crazy fly, but ricochets safely each time. A bracelet dangles on her bare arm.

The man’s hands rest like hairy spiders on the counter top. Sticky from juices, they fondle and lift the little plums. They turn the strawberries so the bruised sides do not show.

The little fly flutters around the room buzzing her song.

The barber’s wife stands with pursed lips. She looks at the cherries, the pears. She does not like small towns, but her husband expects to make a good living. She is as pretty as her daughter, but far too old.

The spider hands spin their thoughts to a dew-sparkling web. The girl flits to the window and back, tugging her mother’s arm. The barber’s wife shrugs her off impatiently. She returns like a persistent thing with wings, tugs, dances away.

The barber’s wife says, “I’d like a pound of peaches. ” She looks up at the man behind the counter, asks in a worried tone, “Are you feeling all right? You don’t look well.”

He hurries to oblige. “Such a hot day. So how do you like our little town?” He picks up the fuzzy peaches, pressing each gently to judge its ripeness. Close by the door, the adorable little fly flits and skips to the song in her head.

Janice D. Soderling is an ex-pat American who lives in Sweden. Her fiction, poetry, and translations appear in many online and print journals, most recently in Magma Poetry (England), and the online sites Literary Mama and Tilt-a-Whirl.

Back to Issue Eight: Summer 2010