Chapter Two

The next morning Megan reached out from under the covers to turn off the alarm. Although she was a native, she never fully adapted to the long fierce winters on the plain. Every winter morning her hand shivered as she searched for the off button in the dark. There had to be a better place to live than Streeter, North Dakota. Unfortunately, or fortunately, she had one of the few union jobs in town: she ran the local post office. She made enough money to pay the bills comfortably as a single woman with no dependents, and the cost of living was cheap. Winter was one of the downsides of Megan’s life. If she had not had a good job, she would have moved on long ago.

She climbed out of bed and turned on the shower to be sure the water would heat up before it was time to get in it. Running out to the kitchen to start the coffee, Megan found the dish towel on the living room floor with the fish completely exposed. “Stupid, stupid fish,” she muttered. Throwing the dish towel on the kitchen counter, she looked out the window to the stairs.

“Holy crap! There has to be two feet of snow out there!” Immediately Megan tried to push open the door in an attempt to dislodge some of the snow. She was able to reach her arm out and grab the shovel at least. Her shower would have to wait for now. Shoveling became today’s priority. She bundled up and cleared the steps before returning to her apartment.

Megan’s boots made the first tracks on the sidewalk in the snow. The post office was more of a postal counter in the back of the Last Minute Grocery. “Buy It Here In A Flash” was painted on a sign just above the door. In smaller print, an official sign below it announced, “U.S. Postal Service.”

There was not a lot to Megan’s job, so she had forced herself to master the art of looking busy: cleaning, polishing and organizing every paper, stamp, envelope, scale and pen. In the summers customers brought her fresh vegetables from their gardens. In the winters cookies frequently came her way.

The real advantage, however, of working in a small town post office was knowledge about everybody and everything. She was astute enough to recognize that it was best not to let people know what she knew. Unlike Ed, Megan figured that people were supposed to be competent enough to run their own lives without her input, so she seldom gave her opinion on anything besides the weather or the Minnesota Vikings, always safe subjects in this town at least. Adding Brett Favre as quarterback kept everyone talking for weeks.  Megan decided that asking leading questions about non-controversial subjects and nodding was part of the art and science of her job as long as she had one customer at a time.  Life was not to be hurried.

Devon Baxter, the twenty-two year old wild partying cashier of the the grocery store seemed to think it was her avocation to keep Megan from being bored.  Whenever customers were scarce, and stocking was caught up, Devon managed to find her way to the postal counter.

“So, Devon, what’s up?”  Megan queried while wondering if she really wanted to know.  It was too early in the day for another of Devon’s shocking revelatory exploits.

“Megan, you first.  How was the birthday party at your brother’s house?”

“Never happened.  Ian’s sick.”

“No presents?  No cake?  No party?”

“If you really want to know, Devon, my mom sent me a check, and we have plans to meet in Vegas.  My nephew, Ian, gave me a Great Fish, mounted, and I had pie at the diner with Rachel.”

“What kind of fish?”

“A striped bass.”

“Has it made it to the window seat yet?”

“Devon, I can’t do that.  Ian will know.  I already hung it up in the living room.”

“Well, if it needs a new home,” Devon winked, “you can always hang it in the store.  You know, share the love and all that.”

Megan thought this was a fitting comment since Devon was the most love-sharing individual she had ever encountered.  “Thanks, Devon.  I’ll let you know.”

Immediately the door’s buzzer sounded and Devon returned to her post at the cash register to wait on Tim Jeffries, a math teacher and baseball coach who seemed better suited to be a pastor, or so Megan thought, although she would not wish that profession on anyone she liked.  She didn’t really like Tim, however.  She tolerated him because he was dating Jenn.  Jenn thought he was the greatest thing that ever walked into the Faith Presbyterian Church.  Jenn was that way about men.

If they didn’t attend her church and think the way that she did about God, then she had nothing to do with them.  Tim did not deserve a woman like Jenn who was beautiful, fun and intelligent, but he was getting the opportunity because he attended the right church.  Tim was lucky, thought Megan, damn lucky that he was a Presbyterian.  He wasn’t that good looking or personable unless a person counted sincerity, twice as much as any other positive trait.  He was so sincere that he always irritated Megan; he did not even need to speak, just the sincere grin and glance were enough to make her find any excuse to avoid being with him.

As she thought about it, it wasn’t just his sincerity that bothered her so much, it was his sincere religiousness.  Whenever he brought up God, Megan winced.  “What a person does or does not believe about God is entirely private,” she had told him more than once.  Being around him made her about as comfortable as having someone over for dinner who searched your underwear drawer on the way to the bathroom.  It is not a crime, and yet it seem almost screamingly inappropriate.  Private and Personal and Theology were all synonyms to Megan.  Tim either could not or would not accept that fact.

Thankfully Tim was in a hurry, so he did not come back to talk to Megan.  Relieved, Megan went about her own business:  polishing, organizing and cleaning.

(Chapter Two will be continued.)


One Response to “Chapter Two”

  1. aRe Says:

    I am loving this. I especially love how Megan put a dish cloth over the fish. It reminds me of when I went to stay at my Grandma’s house (whom I had never met before) and lo, she had a room set up for me for years. She had been greatly anticipating my arrival. She had been collecting various garage sale items to store in the room as decoration, and one of the items was a paper mache sort of doll lamp. It was so hideous, it frightened me immediately upon entering the room. When my Grandma exited the room to give me “some privacy”, I immediately put a sock over the face of the doll so I could think straight. The sock remained there.

    When I was trying to sleep in the night my parents and Grandma were touring the house, and they came to my door. Grandma thought I was sleeping, so she just turned on the light and whispered, “And here is the room I have set apart for Rachel all these years. Well, that’s funny, there’s a sock on that cute lamp. Huh. I wonder how that got there! Maybe she put it on there. I guess she has her reasons!” She flicked off the light chuckling.

    I understand Megan fully!

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