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Turn My Head
7.12.2001 by Zebulon

He was only there to get some light bulbs.

He’d put it off for far too long, and now half the rooms in his house were accessible only by day. And he was tired of tripping over that damn end table every time he had to use the bathroom at night.
So that’s why he was standing in Aisle E-7 (Electrical Supplies), staring at an endless variety of light bulbs, trying to choose a variety and brand. G.E.? Sylvania? What wattage did the damned kitchen light take, anyway? He certainly didn’t need to burn down the whole-

“Excuse me.”

He turned purely by reflex. “Yes, what do you need?” That was reflex, too.

Then time froze.

He’d heard of such things before- it was like a mental photograph. A convenience store clerk able to recall the face of the man who had held her up, down to the length of his stubble, a Vietnam vet who had but to close his eyes to see the bullet take the life of his best friend yet again. But he’d never really understood it.

Until this very moment.

Her shoulder length blonde hair, tied into a ponytail. The light freckles on her face. It was like every detail was etching itself onto his retinas. The very shape of her face. That friendly, slightly lopsided smile. Those gray eyes. It was like he was falling into them…

“What can I do for you?” He wondered what part of his mind was making him talk. All he could see were her eyes.

“I have this lamp,” she said, in a soft voice. She had a British accent. He’d always liked British accents. “But it takes an odd sort of bulb. Might you know which one?”

“Sure.” Again with the talking. He’d no idea that talking was such a reflex with him. He took the offered lamp. It was one of those little decorative ones. Not meant to give real light but just to glow in a pleasant fashion. It was a blue star, and the socket clipped up into it. It took one of those candelabra bulbs. No wonder she was confused. The damned things came in all wattages and sizes. He’d actually replaced some permanent fixtures in his house that took them because they were such a pain.

“Focus!” some part of his mind yelled at him. He looked back up to see her looking at him in an expectant, polite way. A part of him wished she’d do so forever. It made him feel like Superman.

“It takes some low-watt candelabra bulbs.” He reached to a peg-hook across the aisle. “Here you go.”

“Thank you!” She rewarded him with a radiant smile. Her hand brushed his as she took the package. It was so soft. It was getting hard to breathe.

She placed the bulbs in her cart. “It was nice to meet you! Thank you for helping me!” And she was gone.

“Wait!!” he wanted to shout. “OH sure, NOW I can’t talk!” he thought to himself, bitterly.

She was gone.

But every time he closed his eyes, she was right back in front of him.

He was only there to get some light bulbs.

But he didn’t.

Sometimes, you just have to sit in the dark.

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