She tells him six times in twenty minutes that the Family Dollar doesn’t open until eight, and she’d been waiting on the sidewalk outside for almost two hours before he showed up and brought her into the bookstore’s café for coffee and a warm muffin, the first thing she’d eaten in three days, she said. He isn’t sure if he can believe her; most of his clients have no real sense of time, tend to exaggerate or minimize wildly, not with an intent to deceive but because they’re needy and delusional, medicated or—more often—overmedicated. She looks out the window down Main one last time, finishes her coffee, and fumbles in her pocket in an effort to send him the message that if she had any change she’d help pick up the tab.
He asks her what it is she needs to buy so early in the morning. She just closes her eyes and sits perfectly still for at least a full minute, though it feels like an eternity to him. He wonders if she’s entered some kind of trance or if she’s just trying to remember what it is she wants.
“I might get some soap; I like the way it smells,” she says at last, then adds: “But mostly I just like to watch them turn on their registers and set up their trays.”