One of One

As far as blustery and windy went, this day sure took the cake. An umbrella would have been swept away and replaced by an embarrassed and astonished face, with hands clutching for what was but no longer. Mercury sat with his face pressed to the window, watching the people below as they struggled to keep their things to themselves. Wind was a greedy creature, wanting to take and throw possessions about like an animal that plays with its food. Wind wanted to take and destroy. Mercury shook his head.

He walked to his small kitchen table situated in his small kitchen, barely enough room for the second chair he told himself he needed, though nothing ever occupied it except for the occasional jacket and grocery bags. His hands fingered the thinning jacket material, worry beginning to creep into his mind. He pushed those thoughts away and slung the jacket over his shoulders, struggling to put each arm in.

Rolling his shoulders, Mercury grabbed his re-usable bags and headed out the door. Not bothering to lock it, he took the three flights down in careful, cautious steps. The snow tracked in on the bottoms of boots, and the sogging cardboard did little to deter the snow from melting as his neighbors ascended and descended the stairs.

Out into the steaming alleyway, Mercury takes a quick left onto the street whose name he has never bothered to memorize. The wind bites his ears and cheeks, so he hunches his shoulders in response. Glove-less hands find warm pockets, and he heads to the corner where he knows he can catch a taxi. A begrudging hand raises up to flag down any taxi with a glowing light, but competing against four other people does not bode well for him. Finally, after ten minutes in the blistering cold, he jumps butt-first into the cab’s seat and says in his broken accent to take him to the grocery store, please.

He grabs an almost frozen grocery cart, the individual baskets unheard of. He grabs one of everything. One apple. One banana. One toothbrush. One toothpaste. One badminton racket. One tube of shuttlecocks. One tent meant for one person. One sleeping bag. One pair of hiking boots. One winter jacket. One pair of gloves. One bag of rice. One fork, one knife, one spoon, one pair of chopsticks. One of everything. He regrets buying that second chair, that second place mat, that second bowl, that second plate.

Mercury checks out. He hails another cab to take him home. Walks down his street, through the alley, tramps on the thoroughly sogged cardboard, and up the three flights of stairs to his apartment. No key necessary. He opens the door to no one. Puts his groceries away, and sets out to make one bowl of rice to accompany his one meal. He sits back at the window, pressing his face to the cold glass, watching the couples walk down his street; one mug of coffee in hand.


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