Judgment Day This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "Would you like to donate one dollar to the March Of Dimes Foundation?" I asked. I had scarcely asked any customers the entire afternoon. I was pensive and depressed from repeatedly accepting the nonchalant replies and pie-crust promises to donate "another day."

I stood watching this customer, anticipating the negative response I did not wish to hear. As I watched her contemplate her answer, I remember imagining what a terrible human being she must be. She appeared so selfish, hoarding her money like a glutton; she resembled a pig with its slop.

"Yes, please." The two belated words jolted me back to the register. The image of the pig had vanished. "I said yes."

"Oh, I'm sorry!" I said, "I didn't hear you." I turned to select one of the tacky orange paper pumpkins and placed it in her outstretched hand, admiring the handsome rings garnishing her slender fingers ...

Like lightning, I realized how drastically my impression of this woman had changed. I silently scolded myself for being so quick to judge and began to recall people whom I had hated for misjudging me, and realized that I had become a hypocrite.

"I lost a grandson ... he was only two years old ... I'm going to write his name on it, if you don't mind ..." I stared blankly, with my mouth open, struggling to stomach what my ears had just digested.

"Of course" was all I could mumble, my motor skills still too numb from shock A wave of guilt and pity washed over me, and a frown cast its dismal shadow upon my face. I searched my customer's eyes and was not surprised to find the steady mournful gaze that stared back at me. She seemed somewhat older when she returned the pumpkin. I noticed that her hand shook a bit, and it irked me that I was scrutinizing her every action.

Analyzing the toll the death of her grandson had taken on her made me feel guilty. I made a point in trying not to look at her as she gathered her bags to leave. Then, remembering my manners, I thanked her for her donation. I'll always remember the smile she gave me. It was the same putrid smile I had worn when Jeff told me, "we're better off as friends," the smile that you give someone when your heart plummets deep into the pit of your stomach, and you suddenly feel extremely sick.

I don't remember watching her leave, but I know I did, because I can still hear her heels clicking on the linoleum floor. I resumed working. All I could do was scan groceries and listen to the familiar beeping of the register. I could not stop the world and make them listen to my story. I could not make them see the same hollow stare that I had seen ... and yet, perhaps there was something ...

"Would you like to donate one dollar to the March Of Dimes Foundation?" c


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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