Why? (The Cashier Thinks)

“Where’s the sour cream? It’s not down there.” She points to the aisle down there and the cashier shakes her head.

“That’s because it’s over there.” The cashier points to the aisle over there and the woman looking for the sour cream grunts and starts walking.

They always ask ‘where’ things are. Never why. ’Where’ is surface level––it’s a nod to a stranger on the street. It doesn’t answer why you can find the sour cream in that aisle or the stranger on the street, it just acknowledges that they are there. Why are they going where they are going? Why is their hair mussed and eyes red? Are they okay? Why not? Did they talk to someone on the phone today? Or was it an email? Were italics used to highlight the importance of a particular word in the message––that word defining the emotional direction of the correspondence. Is that word now floating in the stranger’s head like a fly in a glass of water? Each time they try to take a sip, to think about anything else besides that word, the bug getting sucked towards their mouth and they have to stop before it gets pulled inside. Is the stranger emotionally dehydrated from not being able to think about anything besides the fly? All you did was nod so there’s no way to know. There’s so much more to know, the cashier thinks. And come on, the goddamn aisles are clearly alphabetical.