“You didn’t get everything on the list, Reid. I’m missing a couple things for the ceremony tonight.” Mother called, concernedly peeking at Reid from the kitchen. “Would you mind going to Charlie’s to pick up a bag of flour and some more sweet potatoes?”
Reid was lying on the sofa, attempting to distract himself from the evening’s ceremony by reading a book. He placed the book on the end table and rose from his seat, eagerly welcoming the task at hand, “Sounds great, Mother. I’ll be back in a little while.”
Reid hopped on his bike, heading off to the market in the pleasant afternoon warmth. As he lazily rode along the broad streets of downtown, he watched the familiar faces of lifelong neighbors preparing for the evening’s event. The townspeople all waved excitedly as Reid passed. He felt a swell of pride in his chest, knowing he personally would soon play an integral role in assuring every one of these peoples’ lives continued to be happier and more fulfilled than ever. He pedaled on toward the market, day dreaming about the future. He passed restaurants and downtown shops, closed in expectation of the evening’s events.
Reid soon arrived at Charlie’s Market. He pushed his bike through the familiar, tidy aisles distractedly placing items from Mother’s list in the basket. He had been down these aisles since he was a kid. He passed Charlie, the stout middle-aged bachelor who owned the market for longer than Reid had been alive.
“Good to see you, Reid! Back so soon? Those anchovies are just as salty as ever!” The jolly man’s vigorous outburst roused Reid from a momentary pause in front of the canned seafood section. Startled, Reid stepped backward into a rack, toppling a stack of jars, shattering one or two on the polished floor.
“Hey, Charlie! So sorry…” Reid quickly propped up his bike and hastily began trying to pick up the pieces. Charlie knelt beside him to assist the effort.
“Oh, don’t worry about the mess! I’ll get a mop in a minute…” Charlie eyed Reid questioningly. “You searching for anything in particular? Groceries or otherwise?” He said with a knowing smile. He picked up the unbroken jars and began wiping them off with his clean apron he wore proudly as a uniform.
“Oh, not especially. Just grabbing some stuff I missed on Mother’s list.”
“Well I hope you find what you’re looking for, grad kid!” Charlie said, slapping Reid on the back. “I owe my market to Dawson! I was close to losing any hope of keeping this place open before He saved us. I really do appreciate you doing this. Going to work at the Plant and all, to support Him yourself. I’m almost as proud of you as I am of those sweet potatoes!” Gesturing to Reid’s basket and grinning broadly. “Grew them myself, so your mom will know who to thank when everyone loves her plate tonight!”
“Oh! Well, thanks, Charlie! I’ll be sure to let Mother know. She’s always very appreciative of all your humble efforts! I’ve got to get home so she can make her plate! See you tonight!” They both laughed and shook hands.
Reid gathered the remainder of the groceries into his basket. He pushed his loaded bike past the flower bouquet stands, long since converted from cashier registers. He vaguely remembered their use as such, being so young then. Times really must have been so different back then, he thought.
As Reid rode his bike home, he felt much more at peace about the coming evening. His pedal stroke became firm with conviction, I’ll make sure this place keeps on going. For people like Charlie. He decided.