Dollar Store, Yes
The checkout girl is fecund with child, and her neck is so finely dappled with the unmistakable constellations of hickies that when she asks you if you want more (more chips because you have one bag, and it’s two for one), you automatically say “yes,” because clearly this girl is teaching you something in this moment about saying “yes.” Her body swelling, and puckering, and blistering, from the sucking and the fucking—so you reach for another bag, because why not? And that’s what you want to say from now on, “why not?” Her body the lesson in “yes,” in “yessing.” So, you reach for another bag, and another, and you are stricken with her comfort. The way she moves in this dark purple necklace of hickies (as though it were Swarovski crystal) and her roundness, and her kindness, and her winking eyes tell you, “yes, more.” Even as she scans the 2nd bag of chips and so you reach for a 3rd bag and a 4th bag, and she keeps encouraging you, “you can mix and match, you know, really grab any kind you want.” And you keep thinking this girl is just so good at her job. This store with dollars, and trees, and flip-flops in December, and bizarre hotdog decals that no one needs for a cookout no one is having, and baseball cards from 1997, and vases, and stickers, and ribbons for gifts you don’t have.
—And you’re trying to think about the last time you had a hickey: that student who spent time in the military— the strange night he slept over in your broken bed. This was after you went crane watching in Socorro. You were taking a small break from sex, just coming up for air, and he went like a fountain, and you could see it in the moonlight on his cheek dripping down to his chin like a wound. So you instruct him more deeply to say “yes” to this moment by kissing him, trying to show him “yes,” “it’s okay”—and that’s really what we mean when we say “yes,” we mean permission. The next day—too late to cover, too hot to wear a scarf, I teach with it. Yes, I teach with it. The “yes” on my neck.
The checkout girl says to have a good night, and you tell her to have a good night, and you nod at one another, yes, do have a good night, do, yes.
Suzanne Richardson earned her MFA in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the University of New Mexico. She currently lives in Utica, New York, where she teaches English and creative writing at Utica College. More about Suzanne and her writing can be found here: https://www-suzannerichardsonwrites.tumblr.com
Cover photo by Anthony Easton (Flickr)