That Feeling

Over at The Daily Post they’ve submitted a writing challenge that I felt the need to participate in. You can read all about it (or participate as well!) here. The prompt is “Starting Over.”

convenience
Henry was standing at the door to an all night convenience store. The door was all glass except for the metal frame and the metal handle that stuck out like a giant sideways L. There were stickers all over the door showcasing some tobacco or alcoholic product that was sold inside.

Henry held onto the handle and had a feeling rush over him. That feeling. The one that makes you forget everything for just a second and you question what it is you’re doing and where you’re at. Henry had that feeling before, and deja vu, it seemed as if it had happened in this very spot at exactly this moment. That’s how deja vu works, right?

He opened the door and went inside. The bell above the door jingled and the clerk looked up to see who had just come in. Henry nodded to the clerk and began walking, almost on instinct, towards the back of the store. It was when he was looking on the shelf while walking to the back that he realized what he had come in for, and that feeling he had outside went away.

He had come in for some diapers. His wife had sent him because she thought she had had enough but ran out. Lucky for them this convenience store was just down the street and it was open all night. This wasn’t the first time they had to make a trip like this. Their baby Kevin was only four months old and they were still getting used to having him in the house.

There was a jingle from the bell above the door and someone else came in. As far as Henry knew this new customer and himself were the only two in the store besides the clerk. It was a Tuesday night after all, so no big surprise there.

Henry looked at the small selection of diapers on the shelf and tried to remember which one his wife had sent him for. His wife… she popped into his head suddenly and she was crying. Henry’s face reflected his concern for her, his sadness for her. He wasn’t sure why, but he felt her pain although he didn’t know what her pain was for or why it was there. He didn’t even know how the thought popped into his head. He had just been joking with her before he left to get the diapers.

That’s why he couldn’t remember which diapers to get. They had been joking after she told him what kind. He had been giving her grief about running out of diapers and she was making fun of his age and saying how he should be in diapers himself. He was only four years older than her, but she jokingly made fun of his age all the time.

The two laughed at one another and kissed before he walked out of the house twenty minutes prior. He had walked to the store since it was so close and the neighborhood wasn’t so bad that he felt threatened walking there at night.

Henry heard a commotion near the register but he disregarded it. It sounded as if the cashier and the other customer knew one another and were in a heated argument. Their talking had snapped Henry out of his trance and he got back to why he was there.

He looked at the diapers, thought of calling his wife (although she would no doubt make fun of his memory and his old age for forgetting what brand, or for not knowing what diapers his own child wore) but put his phone away. He grabbed one of the packages and went to the back of the store for a soda. The commotion at the register continued to grow louder and over the store’s speakers CCR was playing their hit “Commotion,” which Henry thought was ironically funny.

He pulled a bottle of Mt. Dew out of the cooler and let the door slam shut. He began walking to the front of the store when the commotion he had been hearing died.

He walked out from between two aisles and saw the other customer, a man wearing a black leather jacket and ripped jeans. His shoes seemed to be rather old as well. He had on a dirty maroon knit cap and his facial hair was a few days old. The man looked at Henry and Henry nodded to him. The man turned back to the counter quickly. “Come on, hurry up!”

Frank the cashier, whom Henry had known from coming into the store off and on, stood up from behind the register and was stuffing something into a bag. He looked at Henry with worry on his face. The other customer looked back at Henry and then again at Frank and slammed his hand on the counter. “Hurry up!”

Henry couldn’t tell what was going on, but suddenly the man lifted his other arm and he was holding a gun. Henry fell into that feeling again, as if everything he had done that night up to that point wasn’t there anymore. None of it was on his mind. He felt confused about the situation, as if it were a dream. Something that had happened long ago, but that he was reliving in the present. Something that no matter what happened he wouldn’t be able to stop.

Henry just stood there watching as Frank was robbed at gun point. Henry realized without realizing it that Frank was stuffing money into the bag. He didn’t look at Frank again though, he just stared at the man in front of him with the gun.

That man turned and saw Henry staring at him. “You saw nothing pal!”

Henry instinctively shrugged.

The man turned to Frank again and snatched the bag out of his hands. A few dollar bills floated from the bag to the floor.

The man turned to the door and then stopped. Henry didn’t hear him so well but he was sure he heard the man say to himself, “Oh fuck it.” The man spun around, lifted his gun and fired at Frank. Frank flew backwards from the shot, slamming into a cigarette display. Cigarette packs fell from the shelves they were stocked on as Frank’s body slid down the display until he was no longer visible from where Henry was.

In slow motion Henry witnessed this all taking place. He once again saw his wife crying hysterically. Sobbing. He felt so bad for her, yet so alone. Because he couldn’t do anything to make her feel better. She was his life, and she was holding their four month old son, rocking him back and forth. Why was he seeing this? She was in such a good mood when he left.

In the continued slow motion, Henry looked from the cigarette display over to the man at the door holding a bag of money and a gun. The man had the gun pointed at Henry. Henry frowned. There was a flash.

He just wanted to rub his hand on her face, let her know everything was going to be okay. He felt bad that he couldn’t get the diapers to her in time. He hoped their son, Kevin, didn’t make too much of a mess.

A mess… Kevin…

Henry was standing at the door to an all night convenience store. The door was all glass except for the metal frame and the metal handle that stuck out like a giant sideways L. There were stickers all over the door showcasing some tobacco or alcoholic product that was sold inside.

Henry held onto the handle and had a feeling rush over him. That feeling. The one that makes you forget everything for just a second and you question what it is you’re doing and where you’re at. Henry had that feeling before, and deja vu, it seemed as if it had happened in this very spot at exactly this moment. That’s how deja vu works, right?

48 responses to “That Feeling

  1. Oh wow. That’s truly ‘haunting.’

  2. As a young person working at a convenience store, being robbed with a fake gun was traumatic enough. Your story reminded me of that fear. Now I can use mindful breaths to let go of the past, and enjoy your fiction.

    • Wow, so sorry to hear that! I have a friend who was once held up at gun point, and I can’t imagine going through it myself. I’m glad you can move past it, as I’m sure that’s hard to do. I’m also glad you enjoyed my work, thank you so much!

  3. Great story! Glad I found you on Freshly Pressed! Congrats…

  4. Like your writing style! Good work.

  5. Wow! A gripping read. You built the dramatic tension very adeptly. Congrats on being FP!!

  6. Cbigony@gmail.con

    This is my favorite story of your’s so far. Well written Matt! Congrats!

  7. Great post! I like it. I follow you now, my name is Carlos, if you would like to know about Surfski (Ocean Paddling) follow us back! :) Cheers

  8. Hehe, very cool :) Very Twilight Zone vibe to this! Love this kind of creepy stuff, really well done!

    Thanks for sharing, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    All the best :)

    Rohan.

  9. Superb stuff! Kept me hooked on till the last word!

    Congrats on being FP!

  10. Enjoyed it immensely. I wanted to read MORE.

  11. oh my very haunting, great one…

  12. Interesting take on deja vu. Nice words well written

  13. I always saw Deja Vu as a dream slowly unfolding but this story is definitely the best explanation to it. Very haunting story!

  14. This is amazingly written!! It was so captivating so exciting so interesting!!! I LOVED THE WAY YOU ENDED IT!!!! FASCINATING!!

  15. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Ready, Set, Go! | Beefy's House o' Fun

  16. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. Not surprising at all though that it happened. This story was amazing, riveting and so sad. I will be back for more. L.

  17. Nicely done. I enjoyed it. I couldn’t help but be reminded of The Dark Tower. Kudos on being Pressed!

  18. Erie and hauntingly beautiful all in one.
    Look forward to reading more from you.
    Congrats on being FP’d!

  19. Wow…very moving! That’s going to stick with me for awhile

    http://choosesimplicitydotorg.wordpress.com/

  20. even if this is fiction, i am really scared of deja vus now..great work.. :)

  21. I just finished reading this with my laptop perched on my lap and the lights off. Its 12.37 a.m and I’m the only one awake.
    Literally felt a shiver run through me. Great post! :)

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  24. Reblogged this on The Dirty Dame and commented:
    My husband is an amazing writer and this is one of my favorite pieces he’s written as of yet. Read it and let us know what you think!

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