by Brandon Kamins
Raymond and Julia are looking for love. They meet in the fruit section of an all-night grocery store. Raymond is testing the firmness of melons and Julia is searching frantically for ripe pomegranate. It is late at night and they are they only two shoppers in the store. Raymond and Julia start talking. They talk a good, long time. They talk about how they only ever shop when it is very late at night, so as to avoid the long lines, crying children, carts with one broken wheel, the metallic nasal voice over the intercom system incessantly calling for price checks or condiment aisle cleanups.
Julia laughs and smiles. Raymond peeks into Julia’s carts and discovers staggering assortment of junk food: candy bars, soda pop, ice cream, cookies, donuts, etc. She is a girl after my own heart, Raymond thinks. Julia smiles, Raymond smiles.
Raymond walks with Julia to the dairy section of the store where she selects three cartons of chocolate milk—all of which have passed their expiration dates.
At the checkout counter for 100 items or less, Raymond asks Julia out on a date after he sees she has clipped no coupons. Julia accepts.
Raymond and Julia start dating. Neither of them have done much dating in their adult lives, so they are blissfully unaware of any/all social customs, rules, standards that govern dating in our time. Julia pays. Raymond pays. Julia opens doors for Raymond. Raymond opens doors for Julia.
They have never before been in love and they think this is love. They have never been together in the biblical sense, and Raymond begins to get anxious. They discuss. Julia is apprehensive. Raymond does not demand. But there is an ever-widening gulf, which Raymond can perceive.
There are secrets. Julia has one. Raymond will understand. Julia trusts. Julia lets Raymond know her secret. She is a fly. Not completely or all fly, but part fly. She is a product of the genetic experiments of the 50’s and early 60’s.
This comes as a great surprise to Raymond. But it is something, he says, he is willing to move beyond. He is relieved, in fact, it is not something much more serious.
Brandon Kamins is a teacher and short fiction writer who lives in the small town of Garwood, New Jersey. His stories have appeared in 580 Split, Nerve Cowboy, Stray Dog, Slate & Style, and Carillon.