SPENT • by Ingrid Jendrzejewski

You go to pay for your groceries, and your credit card is declined. It was bound to happen sooner or later, but you didn’t expect it to be today. You look at the letters dancing across the card reader’s display and swallow.

The cashier doesn’t blink an eye, doesn’t look at you, just asks for another type of payment. Of course, you don’t have any, but you make a show of rifling through your purse, wondering aloud what could be wrong. You feel a hotness radiating from your skin, a tremor in your throat. Still, you smile. “Probably something wrong with the chip and pin,” says the cashier to her screen. “Happens all the time.” The girl bags up your groceries, stows them in a cart off to the side so that you can go home and fetch your other card, the one you don’t really have.

When you get to your car, you sink into the driver’s seat, check how much gas is left in the tank, and then sit. You just sit. And as you watch other vehicles pull in and out of the spaces around you, you ask yourself exactly how long it takes for a pint of milk to turn.

Ingrid Jendrzejewski currently serves as Co-Director of National Flash Fiction Day. She loves shortform writing of all varieties. You can find her at www.ingridj.com and on Twitter @lunchontuesday.

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