No Fight, No Blame This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "No fight, no blame," he finished calmly and I lifted my eyes from the floor to meet the chalice. It was flickering up and down and it looked just like the symbols on the wall hangings that are always up at Christmas time. The colors are different, they are always more colorful than they are in reality, like stories about life.

When I was about seven, I read a book about the supermarket, a story of a little girl who thought the best thing to do was go to the supermarket with her mother. All of the aisles were lined with cereal and cookies. Not once in the pictures did they show rows of pickled cow tongues or bottles of bright pink Pepto Bismol. She rode in the carts facing out and she pretended she was the captain of a ship. I guess she never saw the plastic flaps attached to the carts that say not to ride that way. Her mother filled the cart with healthy vegetables and a treat of some honey-touched cereal, then went down the next aisle to pick up some jelly for breakfast the next morning.

When they were done filling their cart, they went to the empty checkout counter where the cashier smiled at the little girl and told her how pretty she was and the little girl giggled. Her mother took out some money and let the little girl count out the right amount for the cashier. When she was done, she gave it to the cashier who thanked her for counting so well. Her mother picked up the bag full of their food for the week and they walked out into the sun to the car right near the store's door.

After I read the book I thought that the supermarket sounded like fun, so I asked my mother if I could go with her. She told me that she never went to the supermarket since my father did the shopping, but that if I really wanted to, I could go with him that afternoon. When we got there it had just started to snow and there were no parking spaces closer than ten lines of cars away from the store, so we parked there. The snow wasn't too cold, but it was very wet and I wasn't dressed for that kind of weather.

We went inside and the first thing that struck me was the awful ringing noise coming from near the deli. I tried to stand far away from the deli, so that I couldn't hear the noise which my dad couldn't hear at all. The meat he bought was all pink and I hated meat. I had decided at the age of four, after going to a friend's farm meeting a bull, and later seeing them eat it, that I would be a vegetarian. I turned my face away and held my ears and just stood there, so that my dad could find me again. When I turned back, my dad was in the fruit aisle, so I ran over to him. We spent a long time in the supermarket bending down to pick up the boxes of dry soup that I knocked over and reaching up to compare the prices of two brands of dishwasher soap, the kind with the white label and black printing was always cheaper. We went to the cashier's and waited in line while everybody else in the whole city bought their food. A woman with gray hair like a wig in our costume trunk (of my grandmother) was in front of us buying food. I figured she had a big family because of the quantities she was buying, but I guess she was shopping for herself for a long time. The wait gave me a chance to listen to the music, which I hadn't even heard before. It sounded like music they played in an airplane I had taken the previous summer.

This was my chance to have fun in the supermarket, like the girl in the book, so I asked if I could count the money. "Not now," my dad said. He took out a lot of bills and gave them to the cashier. She pushed some buttons and then gave my dad 11 cents. My dad looked confused. "I gave you a whole stack of coupons, which eliminates at least $4.00 from my order." She pushed more buttons and gave my father three more dollars. She didn't say anything, but just looked at me. I turned away and looked at the magazines (even though I didn't really want to) because I didn't want her looking at me. Her name tag read Kathy, but she didn't look like a Kathy. She looked more like the girl that always made fun of many of my friends. Her name should be Jennifer. We left the store and pushed our cart full of groceries back to the car at the end of the parking lot. The snow had turned to a light rain.

"No fight, no blame." There was no blame. Just hostility. The fire of the chalice came back into focus and the minister started pressing the button on his tape recorder. He fiddled around with it for a while and interrupted our meditation. Then he went to the pulpit and explained the problem, "We are having small technical problems. I'm sorry for the interruption. Jim, can you try to make that work?" One of the members of our church got up to help with the tape recorder. He pressed "Play" and it went on. The congregation laughed as the chalice flickered. "No fight, no blame." The chalice flame flickered high and then fell low again back to where we always see it. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Mikki-bug<3 said...
Jun. 13, 2010 at 12:40 pm
The style and descriptions are really awesome and I love that you write with your own "voice". The only thing is I was kind of lost on how the first and last paragraphs relate to the story about the grocery store. It's probably just me being dim witted though xD. Good work!
 
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