By Anna Spence
The man at the cash register buying a razor and some Lanacane has goat’s eyes. They are golden with rectangle pupils. The cashier glimpses them behind his aviator shades when he ducks his head to read the prompts on the Interac machine. He doesn’t have tap enabled on his card. The cashier is kind of thrown by that. It seems like a devil would have tap. Maybe, she thinks, he has a flip phone too. Maybe he has a CD player in his car. His fingers are normal when he punches in his PIN. He doesn’t seem like he needs the Lanacane cream for burns but who knows what people have under their clothes.
When he straightens up again, he looks at her over the rims of his glasses, like, at her at her, and catches her looking at him and they are eyes to goat eyes and she feels herself being peeled back like roofing tiles in a storm, flake by flake, and all the rooms inside her are open to the sky and it’s weird as fuck how she kind of looks into herself and sees Rachel at register #3 bending to get a new box of plastic bags out from under her counter. The cashier sees herself watching Rachel, or at least her tattoo, that raven wingspread on the nape of her neck, its beak pointing earthward like St. Peter crucified upside down. Through the open roof of things, the cashier can see Rachel’s boyfriend saying that the bird is pointing at Rachel’s ass. Rachel hates her boyfriend but his name is on the lease and he has a car that she needs to get to work because the bus only comes on alternating Tuesdays when the moon is in Uranus. Like the raven, her boyfriend says and cackle laughs like a rodent and Rachel makes stabbing motions at his back. The cashier drives right by Rachel’s place and would give her a ride but Rachel doesn’t know this.
The cashier once gave a customer an extra $10 cash-back because Rachel was bending down to open a new carton of Player’s Lights to stock the rack and her black hair was sliding over her shoulders and the raven was appearing on her neck like it was sweeping out of the darkness into the blank hours of the April morning and the cashier counted out four tens instead of three. The asshole customer hadn’t corrected her and the cashier had to pay it out-of-pocket while the customer got to spend it on lattes or something, which really pissed her off. Except that, now, the cashier can see through the holes in the roof that the customer went next door to the Dollarama and spent the extra tenner on jars of no name baby food.
As a rule, the cashier tries not to look at Rachel so much—she can’t afford ten bucks a look. She definitely tries not to look at the raven tattoo or to think about touching it, placing her thumbs on its eyes on either side of Rachel’s spine and spreading her hands wide along its wings, around her neck, so that Rachel’s pulse is there under the cashier’s fingers, and the cashier’s pulse is skeltering along in her own neck so that the two pulses syncopate like some kind of frenetic jazz. She doesn’t think about Rachel’s head tipping back against the cashier’s shoulder and her hair sliding black like an oil slick over the cashier’s hands and Rachel’s eyes going hooded and dark so she can look out of them at the world and say what the fuck you looking at and the raven falling like an arrow through the cashier’s breastbone, crucifying them both upside down inside themselves.
The cashier jumps when the goat-eyed man takes his bag of stuff from her hand. He smiles and his teeth are normal but the smile isn’t normal. It’s not scary or anything, just not a normal smile. Like he knows the roof has come off of everything. He pushes his glasses back up his nose with the knuckle of the hand holding the plastic handles of the bag with the razor and the Lanacane in it so the cashier can’t see his eyes anymore but she can still see into all the rooms, all the open rooms.
Anna Spence is an academic by day and a writer by compulsion. Her work has appeared in a number of journals including Emerge Literary Journal, Sledgehammer Lit, and Ellipsis Zine. She can be found on Twitter @MSSalieri.