The Forest Through The Trees (A Short Story

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By coolbreeze88   |   
4 0 196 (1 Today)
Published: October 28, 2017
The Forest Through The Trees

It was generally quiet in this sort of town, even though he never used to be.

The main street was dead save for a few cars parked in and around the local bar people huddle around to share a drink and have a reprieve from an otherwise dead and boring town.

Not many people come in to visit here around the fall months, albeit they have no reason too.

The only reprieve from our self-imposed isolation would be around the winter months were many would stay at the only few hotels that managed to stay open as they needed lodging before they headed out on their ski trips at the ski resort only a few miles from here.

As I drove up to the next intersection, the lights were always flashing a constant yellow, basically meaning we have no reason to have a traffic signal at all at this point.

I think the last time I remember that light displaying any other color at all was 20 years ago, some rumors say that it still signals green and red at rare times during peak hours but so far I haven’t seen it.

Taking a right off main street and onto the parking lot of the only "go to" place for food and to no surprise the amount of choice given as to where you want to park goes up every year and everyone gets to park near the front.

But to be completely honest, this store shouldn’t even exist now, the only reason it does is because it was founded as a consolidated super-mart to provide more convenience to the lumber mill workers that at one time made up 80% of this town’s population at a ripe healthy population of 20,000.

Now were down to 4,000 and this store is hanging on by a thread.

I swear if it went belly up, we’d all literally starve, and we pray to god that it hangs on for just one more year.

As for me, I’m just running my weekly errands.

I chose a parking space near the front,, obviously, and made sure my car was locked before heading through those squeaky 30 year old sliding doors.

Wait.. did they just get stuck.

Luckily it jammed open just wide enough that I could squeeze through, but this is still quite an annoying problem.

“Get the manager, the doors are stuck again.” I yelled out a bit peeved to one of the employees as the ran as fast as they could towards the back to get the maintenance worker from out back.

They should have it fixed by the time I'm finished plucking out what I need from the shelves as a grabbed a cart from the stack and started a slow winding lap through all the isles, usually as a means of good etiquette.

But is such etiquette necessary anymore, from what I could see outside are only a couple others cars besides mine, most of them the employees cars.

So for all I know, I was all alone in a store frozen in time, everything being left the same as it was back in the heyday, but different in the fact that it could barely host a few dozen shoppers a day at max anymore, never again would it see a black Friday style rush as shoppers gleefully stepped on each other’s toes to grab the discounted items before they all ran out of stock in the span of as little as a few hours.

Nowadays, you would be considered rather lucky to see the bread taken off the shelves because of mold.

Swerving back and forth between the isles, scratching off everything on my list in my head one by one, until I finally I came across other life.

There, going the opposite direction down the same isle was a woman who appeared to be in her late 30’s along with a small, shy child that hung near shopping cart, apprehensive of strangers.

As she approached into ear shot she sent my what appeared to be a 1000 yard stare, then with the kid hidden behind the cart she spoke up to me.

“Not what it used to be hugh?!” her voice was chocked with miasma and tar, possibly from the heavy smoking she has done out of sheer boredom and apathy.
I finally managed a saddened reply.
“Yeah, this town used to have so much going for it, now it seems like there's no real reason to stay”

A flash of life returned to her eyes, feeling comforted knowing it was another local rather than some jackass tourist slumming it.

“Hun, even with this town gone to shit, I still have a reason to stay here, I have to make sure my kid can go to school, that involves keepin em fed, which is why you see me here”

“I can see that, how has the man of the house managed working 3 part time jobs a week?”

With that I seemed to have irrevocably stepped on a landmine.

Giving me a grimace of pain and with a strange pause in the conversation she turned around towards her one and only child.

“James, wait for mommy at the front will ye”

He quietly nodded and ran back towards the front, relieved that he didn’t have to trek through the unfamiliar labyrinth.

She then tuned back around to face me.

“My husband’s dead”

“What?! But I just saw you two..”

“Committed suicide a few days ago, enduring years and years with little prospects, often times wasting away what little money he had saved up at the bar, eventually he snapped, he didn’t want anything to do with us, feelin trapped, drove deep into the woods, took a loaded shotgun, and did the deed right there.

So much for unconditional love, he just wanted to someone to rub his smelly ass feet when he got back from the mills.

Fucking asshole.

Damnit I need a smoke!!”

I was immediately overtaken with concern at the shock of it, to think at least people have the decency to not leave their family in a raging storm, let alone completely end their existence for petty reasons.

“Yeah… I can see that”

“This town used to be something, somewhere important, in fact people would come from all around just to see this hidden gem in the upstate area, but then that other asshole Brian O’neil passed his so called “reforms” that basically made it impossible to keep it runnin.
These left wingin ones are always railing on against the big guys so much that they completely forget how many are left behind when they go belly up.”

“and in the end…no one wins.”

“Damn straight partner, but I can waste any more time talking, but my third part time job starts in an hour hehe, see ya.”

So there she went, off to try and make bread for the week, not really wanting to dwell on it, I had to finish my own food run.

I was one of the lucky ones, just barely managing to get hired into a full time job close by town, pays about $15 an hour, a relative island of wealth.

Due for a promotion too, I just hope they don’t fire me for frivolous reasons before then because I promised everyone in my life I would live the American dream and that’s exactly what I'm going to do.

To think if maybe if that other man was a little less petty and actually cared for one god given day in his life, perhaps we could have been co-workers.

But perhaps it’s something I shouldn’t really dwell upon as what matters is how we can stay together as a community and try to get our town back on the map.

But the first step to that is to make sure we aren’t fighting among ourselves and are willing to see… in a bad pun sort of way.. the forest through the trees.
© 2017 - 2020 coolbreeze88
A short story about a snapshot of life in a run down post-logging town somewhere in Northern Minnesota during the muggy summer.

Nothing too serious, just trying to practice writing prose.

constructive criticism is more than welcome.
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