It was 3:43. Every clock on the wall in the store said so. They had been standing in front of the wall of time for several minutes. The older woman had a fresh perm. She cradled her purse in front of her as she inspected the store’s stock. Her daughter, Kristi, waited behind her, a middle aged woman with long frizzy brown hair. Kristi crossed one hand across her chest and rubbed her temple with the other. Her mother peered at the gold clock with the sparrow design through her large wire-rimmed glasses before moving on to the silver digital one. Kristi was sure God was punishing her for something on this hot and miserable afternoon as she watched her mother shop. This was the 11th store they had been in. She hadn’t even known there were eleven stores that sold clocks in this town. No clock would ever satisfy her mother.
‘What about the one right above you, Mom?’ Kristi asked.
The older lady stepped back and squinted her eyes at the green-framed clock above.
‘Well, it would match my kitchen set quite nicely. But I can barely read those numbers. My eyes aren’t very good anymore. I can barely even watch television.’
Kristi clenched her teeth and didn’t respond. Her input could only make things worse. Instead, she walked down the aisle to the right, lined with mirrors and picture frames. She wondered if there was a place to sit nearby. Was there anything she needed? She decided to text her son. Maybe he was out of toothpaste or something. The text had gotten as far as ‘Hey do you n’ when Kristi heard the shrill cry of her name.
‘Kriiiisti!’ her mother called.
‘I’m right here mom,’ Kristi said. She shuffled up the aisle to face her mother’s gaze.
‘Well you aren’t being very helpful. You just disappeared.’
Kristi was never helpful enough. Especially since her mother had gotten sick. Every visit Kristi made was inadequate. Every phone call too short. Every suggestion just plain ridiculous.