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ThomastheRayThomas Ray
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Jonathan heard the woman speaking, but he wasn't listening to her. His mind was focused entirely on the audiobook playing into his right ear, so when the woman was talking about lunch, the words didn't even enter one of his ears, let alone go out the other.

He pushed the sickly orange cart past the drama DVDs and into the open walkway. His eyes went both ways and met the gaze of the woman talking about lunch, and that was when she asked him if he wanted lunch. Or maybe she used the word "need."

In one of her hands was a nondescript aluminum container with a plastic lid. In the other she held three brown paper bags.

"What?" Jonathan said, disconnecting entirely from the audiobook.

"Do you need lunch?" Her eyes were... Sharp. "Please say yes."

Jonathan wanted to. He also viscerally did not want to. First he felt a flicker of disgust, a weaker version of the feeling he got when other people offered to lend him clothes. The disgust was promptly extinguished by a wave of confusion. Was she really offering the food? yes of course, she had excessive amounts of it. Was she talking to him? Her eyes say so. Then a quiet voice of reason kicked in.

You do need lunch. You didn't bring one, and you've been hungry all day, and you'll BE hungry for the rest of it if you refuse.

But I've already taken my break.

Crackers aren't a meal.

Jonathan couldn't have named the next feeling he had, maybe it was anxiety, who knows.

"No, I don't need lunch."


"I don't."

It was like listening to two strangers have a conversation.

She turned aside and Jonathan pushed the cart forward and instantly the disappointment weighed down on him. He did need the lunch. He was hungry.

He listened distantly as the woman offered good to two other patrons. One of them accepted. One declined.

Why was she offering food to strangers? Was it charity? Some kind of church thing? A personal goal to do a good turn? Maybe she was from the county history museum next door, and the food was the leftovers of some employee party.

Jonathan should have taken the food. He was hungry, painfully so. Perhaps his disappointment was feeding into that, though.

He moved mechanically into nonfiction, shelving two self help books.

He needed some help. Maybe...

What had posessed him to make him consider reading self help books?

He could help himself without their overly positive routines and mantras. He could repair his life without some strangers books. Self help had a reputation for a reason, right? He didn't want or need their books. He didn't need that ​​much help.


Author Notes: On that note, here are the lyrics to the song "Home" by Livingston.
How will I live up to these expectations
When I fall, will you show me who I’m meant to be
Cause I’m getting tired of who I’ve become
How can I move on when I lost my patience
I’m not a hero or a child, I’m just something in between
So don’t let go before I find my way home
I would chase around the little things
Moments passed, I was living for the joy they’d bring
I found my strength in silence
Until I met the violence
Days passed as I would start to scream
I’d hear the words around my head like they were circling
You’ll never be who they all want you to become
Oh will I make them proud enough
Or am I even worth the love
Don’t let my self doubt take my pride away
Because my spirit felt the cuts
And my ego lost its luster just as fast as I could say
How will I live up to these expectations
When I fall, will you show me who I’m meant to be
Cause I’m getting tired of who I’ve become
How can I move on when I lost my patience
I’m not a hero or a child, I’m just something in between
So don’t let go before I find my way home

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About The Author
Thomas Ray
About This Story
17 Apr, 2021
Read Time
2 mins
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4.0 (1 review)

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