Short story: “Inoperable”

So I took a nap and woke up ready to write this, just in time for a few days after Valentine’s Day, woohoo! It’s not very cheery and lovey, though. Like my previous stories, I took elements from different people’s experiences.

I don’t feel this way right now, but it’s not totally something I can’t relate to. (Double negative, yeah!)

Enjoy (hopefully, anyway!).


I close my eyes because it’s happening. I know it’s happening.

He has left me for the last time. This is it. It is now. The moment of his departure is now.

I think back to the last time we made eye-contact and become very sure that there was some sort of fantastic finality to it.

“I’m going to get some bread,” he said. Bread. Hah, yeah right. If by “bread” you mean “liberation from this psychotic woman.”

It has been maybe five or six minutes since he left me standing here in the lame fabrics and crafts department of the Secaucus Walmart with a cart full of what was supposed to be our things for our apartment for our life. Considering that every minute feels like an eternity, I feel like I have been here for five or six eternities.

I am especially angry because he didn’t even leave me in a good part of the store. I have been to maybe nine of the twoteen Walmarts back in Colorado Springs, Colorado, (where I was from) and they all had huge fabric and crafts department with aisles and aisles of uselessly sort-of poseable bears, useless glass beads and useless sprigs of fake flowers. At this Walmart, they didn’t even have a cutting table for fabric or a full-time staff.

A sudden feeling of doom comes over me as I realize the lack of selection in the section reminds me of the lack of selection I have in my real, important, actual life. I have neither useful nor useless things to choose from. I can’t stand it anymore, so I leave the section to go find him myself.

The bakery is directly on the other side of the store, inconveniently located on the other side of the 1,634 registers, 12 of which are open. Yeah, I am never going to get through the queues with my gigantic cart full of space heaters, lamps, pillows and picture frames. I go through the women’s clothing aisle instead.

If you’ve ever pushed a bunch of housewares through a clothing section, you’ll know very well how lamps love to snag on racks of clothing and bring them toppling down. Now I am just not the girl, the singular person, the person who was visibly alone with a cart that had two of everything—toothbrushes, towels and coffee mugs—and one of everything that really mattered like bedsheets. I am also the stupid ugly-faced moron taking down every promotional poster for Miley Cyrus’s new clothing line. While that makes me sort of proud, I am still humiliated.

If he were here, I would at least be able to turn to someone and say, “Haha. Wow, this is so hard to navigate. Guess this isn’t a good way to go, huh?”

And he’d say, “Haha, I guess not. “Or if he decided to be more honest with me, he’d say something like, “Listen, you nitwit. There is no way I am going to move in with you, I don’t care how many stupid stubs you had to pull from ads in those little Filipino stores to get us this apartment. It’s over.”

My imagination, by the way, isn’t even kind enough to make him say something that sounds less anti-me like, “But I don’t really like Bayonne, honey. Nothing goes on over there,” or, “Do you really think moving to a place with bullet holes in its walls is really a good decision?”

Somehow I make it through the section and end up, finally, in the bakery. But unsurprisingly, the love of my life is nowhere to be found. I circle the section a few times, (barely) resist the chocolate chip muffins and red velvet cake, circle again and become very sure that he has finally left me. He has probably taken the car. I was going to have to take a cab and go back to my empty home. This whole store was a lie – I was not going to leave “saving money” or “living better.”

After all our trips to the Museum of Natural History, after all the nights spent curled up watching movies and eating fresh popcorn, after all those magic moments in his Ford. He had finally left me. I feel stupid for even thinking he’d stay, especially since one of the three sentences written in the Valentine he gave me was, “Thanks for being a great friend to me.”

The other two were, “Happy Valentine’s Day,” and “Just wanted you to know your really special.” He couldn’t spell “you’re” correctly – that makes me even sadder.

I can’t stay here any longer. I leave the cart in the middle of the bakery section and begin stomping out. “Can I help you?” asks the door greeter.

“Make me lovable!” I say. I have no idea why I just said that to a complete stranger, really. Well, he has a kind face.

“Oh, but you are,” he says. Oh, he is kind. Then again he is probably just saying that because he’s an old man who unfortunately can’t get work anywhere else because of age discrimination, wants to be able to even think of scraping by through his non-retirement and knows that pleasing the customer is a good way to keep his minimum wage job.

I look him in the eye and he looks wise. He was probably a doctor or something before they told him, “Jerry—“ that’s the name on his badge, “—you’re getting too old and shaky to be operating on people’s wenuses—“ that’s what they call the skin on your elbow. “It’s time to hit the doors of Walmart, ol’ boy,” they said.

As I was imagining Jerry operating on my elbows and making them more beautiful than anyone else’s elbows, I heard someone suddenly call my name. It was my supposed-to-be roommate, my supposed-to-be boyfriend, my supposed-to-have-been-here-fifteen-minutes ago lover. He was carrying a loaf of sliced bread.

“Where were you? Where did you get that? I thought you left me.”

“Yeah, I looked here first for the bread too, but this is all the fresh baked goods and stuff. The sliced bread is in the back.” He placed the loaf in our cart, kissed my cheek, and began pushing the cart towards the registers. “Let’s check out, sweetie.”

“Guess you’re lovable!” jokes Jerry. I wave goodbye to him and follow my beau slowly, knowing that I just got lucky this time. Someday, he’s going to look at me and say, “This is getting too old to operate anymore. “ Someday, he’s really going to check out.

I know it’s happening. It’s happening. I close my eyes.


About Summer Dawn Hortillosa

Summer Dawn Hortillosa is a journalist specializing in arts and entertainment. Among other things, she is also an award-winning playwright, director, singer-songwriter and actress. Her work has been seen in The Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal and other publications.
This entry was posted in Fiction, Prose, Short Stories. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Short story: “Inoperable”

  1. Pingback: New pages for the Dwyers and ‘Cake Boss,’ looking for art to go with my stories! | summerization

  2. Phewph. Nice ending. I wonder why the character telling the story is so worried about losing her boyfriend.

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