Sadie entered the grocery store and stopped instantly on the threshold, glancing back and forth as if the wave of heat from inside had been firm enough to stop her like a wall. She looked at Dana, then at the shiny, white interior, and took a hesitant step forward. The wall, if it had been there at all, let her pass, so long as she went slowly. Dana went ahead, grabbing a basket from the wall, and a digging her list out of her pocket, and tried not to look back at her roommate. She was pretty sure that if she just moved, Sadie would find a way to keep up.
“It’s empty,” Sadie breathed behind her.
Dana unfolded her list, and scanned down it, head bent down. “Mmm-hmm,” she said.
Sadie’s shoes squeaked as she spun in a tight circle behind her. “There’s no one here.”
Dana pointed to a bored cashier leaning his hip against his booth. “He’s here.”
“But nobody else…” Sadie murmured.
Dana looked back at her, surprised and amused at her wide-eyed look. She looked as if she had made the mistake of creeping down the stairs at Christmas, only to find that her presents were piled higher than she had ever imagined, but Santa had horns. Sadie moved carefully, and held her breath as she continued to look around.
“It’s almost midnight,” Dana said. “Did you think everyone was going to run out for peas and cookies?”
“It’s usually not empty until two in the morning,” Sadie said.
Dana turned away from her immediately. “I don’t want to know how you know that.”
“Peas taste best at two in the morning,” Sadie said without hesitation. “Especially in chocolate frosting on top of triple chocolate brownies. And you forget the peas.” She skipped – one foot in front of the other skipped – up beside Dana and linked arms with her.
“You know what this means,” Sadie whispered, starting to smile.
“Don’t do it,” Dana said.
“Don’t,” Dana said.
Sadie began to sing along with the overhead music. It had been quiet and unobtrusive, gently reminding shoppers to enjoy themselves and move quickly, but Sadie sang the next line as if it were her favorite song as a teenager, and she wished she had remembered to bring her hairbrush to sing into.
Dana looked away.
Sadie sang louder, let go of her arm and swung around to do three steps of an absurd dance in front of her.
“I will leave you here,” Dana threatened.
“But, Mom…” Sadie joked.
Dana laughed, then laughed harder trying to stop herself, and Sadie flung her arms wide to dance down the aisle.