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The Last Day

Author: Lost Sheep
ASL Info:    41 M Vancouver, WA
Elite Ratio:    6.25 - 913 /773 /73
Words: 714
Class/Type: Prose /Misc
Total Views: 1718
Average Vote:    No vote yet.
Bytes: 4723


This is coming from a couple of places. Another poet on this site wrote a poem that included an old storekeeper. I'm also facing the end of a dance class this week that I've been teaching for 18 months. Sometimes it's hard to move on.

The Last Day

To the world, it’s just another day
To him, it’s the end
His last day in the store
The last day of his working life

He opens the store, for the last time
That thought won’t leave him as he works
This is the last time he'll perform his daily routine
“I need to order more…, No, I don’t.”
“I’d better clean the…, No, what’s the point?”
Forty years of habits die hard.

“Good morning Mrs. Johnson”

“Good morning, Bill, isn’t this your last day?”

“Yes, I’ll be locking up for good tonight.”

“Well, have a happy retirement”

“I’m sure I will, it’s been nice… serving you all these years.”

Pulling up his sleeves, he begins packing up the produce
The building will be sold by a realtor while he’s gone
Things shouldn’t be rotting on the shelves
He’ll overfill the dumpster today.

“Well hello, Miss Adams, I haven’t seen you in a month!”

“I just got back from college. Are you really closing the store?”

“Yes, I’m afraid I have to.
Too many people have switched to the new store”

“Well, they will never give the service you have all of these years
Say, do you still have any of those root beer sticks?
It’s funny I haven’t thought about them in years.”

“Yes, I do have some left. Here, take the jar, for old time’s sake.”

“Oh, what do I owe you?”

“Nothing at all, Miss. You’ve lightened my heart a bit on a heavy day.”

“Thank you… We’ll miss you Bill.”

“I’ll miss you too. See you tom… I wish you the best.”

“G… Take care, Bill”

As the door closes behind her, he sets back to work.
He sweeps the floor, thinking "the last time"
Checks the temperature in the cooler
Noticing the empty cooler shelves,
He turns the refrigeration off

The customers are scarce today
A few people stop by
Mostly to reminisce

His mind works in circles
This is the last time I’ll hear the noon news on this radio
This is the last time I’ll pick up the mail
This is the last time I’ll see dust floating in the low angled sun.

It’s near closing time now.
The boy walks in
Caught somewhere between Opie Taylor and Huck Finn
He’s been helping out these last days
Doing odd chores

“Sorry I’m so late, Bill, I had to help Mom
Looks like that little sign over the door is comin’ loose.
You want that I should fix it? I know you like things all pretty.”

“No, Johnny, let it be.
It doesn’t matter now.”

“You need help with anything else?”

“No. I think everything is done.
Here’s the money I owe you and here I want you to have this too.”

“But, Bill, this is your favorite picture. You’ve had it forever.”

“I’ve had it since 1964 young man, hardly forever.
I know that you like it as much as I do
I think it should spend the rest of forever with you.”

“Gee thanks, Bill. Thank you very much.”

“You head along home now.”

“Goodb… See ya later Bill”

“See you later”

Bill looks around his store in the evening light, for the last time
He looks at the cash register he bought with his first week’s profits
The windows he replaced when the hurricane broke them
The old tools hanging on the wall that weren’t always antiques
The cooler he fixed dozens of times, now laying dormant
The shelves he built himself, now nearly empty

The clock on the back wall is five minutes slow
Just like it has been every afternoon for the last 15 years
He resets the clock to match his old watch
Steps outside
Closes the squeaking door
"Guess I never will oil it, now"
Locks up, for the last time

He reaches above the door
Pulls down the loose sign
“Bill Hadley, Grocer”
He tucks the sign under his arm
And carries it home.

Submitted on 2006-03-22 20:32:59     Terms of Service / Copyright Rules
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  I was hoping when I read this that something would save the store, but that was just hope. I like this. It's quiet, sad, memorable and good.
I like the conversations, it makes it more personal. I guess as I read each conversation, I kept thinking that these people who knew Mr. Bill, who knew the store, loved the atmosphere, why didn't they do something to save it. But I guess they did, he gave them something they remembered the most about the store. In the end, he did the same thing, he took the sign.
-good job-
-stacey M.-
| Posted on 2006-05-24 00:00:00 | by idlewriter | [ Reply to This ]
  Such a sad piece, about the last day of something someone has been doing for years of their lives, or even months... you never really think of what will happen when you can't anymore.

All the times that you hated getting up and doing it, all the little things you hated you now will miss as you walk away from that piece of your life.

You did a beautiful job with bringing this to life for all of us,
I know I am just repeating several others, but I still wanted to let you know that you have really tuged at my heart and inspired me.
Take care Steve
| Posted on 2006-04-13 00:00:00 | by joy7542 | [ Reply to This ]
  I loved this write you did a excellent job of it,the story reminds me of ernies grocery's in my home town,which hasn't gotten two much bigger until the last ten years now or so,but we had ernies to goto when I was a kid ,and the peronal attention he gave his customers sure as heck beats todays stores,
anyway keep up the wonderful writes I liked how you ended this with him carrying his sign home
| Posted on 2006-04-06 00:00:00 | by adnil | [ Reply to This ]
  This takes me back to my teen years to the retirement and closing of Mr. Bledsos corner market that he had ran for almost 50 yrs. Replaced by the up and coming conveniance stores.
This is a nice and humble little write you have here steve. Most people can relate to it unless they are from the large city and even then there is a relation to it.

I like how you let the reader see the relationship between Mr. Bill and the customers as they come in to say goodbye.
You tell a good story here steve and I for one have always liked reading them although this one was not of the norm and has a different little twist to it.

Thanks for the trip back through time.

Respect and Admiration

| Posted on 2006-04-03 00:00:00 | by Wisdom Seeker | [ Reply to This ]
  You're talk'n a lot about retirement in this write,but ya know it also reminds me of all the small Mom & Pop businesses that big companies like wal-Mart have put out of business over the years. And you are extremely right 'cause forty years of old habits are hard to break. I have watched it happen so many times when people retire after work'n basically all their life and the next thing you know they are gone. Just like they lost their purpose in life and died.

| Posted on 2006-04-03 00:00:00 | by dr_tigger | [ Reply to This ]
  This story was really well written. Reading it really made me fell sad, especially since I know that closing their small shops is something that many people do have to do now that there are so many large shops and supermarkets. It has a very nostalgic mood to it.
| Posted on 2006-03-31 00:00:00 | by syrekata | [ Reply to This ]
  i can relate to this story as I worked at a job for 14 years until the door was closed. Was sad to see it go and people loved buying our food, but like the saying goes, a few rotten apples spoil the bunch.

in-store theft was just too much and things weren't turning around so the company big-wigs decided to shut er down

it's like a piece of you and a towns history when you've worked at a place that long. many things have happened..change of management, getting robbed, fires, and stuff like that.

and it seems like the old generation knew how to give excellent service and value, and now most of the time it's just number crunching to get a better profit vs expense margin

| Posted on 2006-03-31 00:00:00 | by dax | [ Reply to This ]
  well what can i say ? i have not read your writing for a long time but i think that you have not lost your imagination ... well yeah it was a magnific writing i really feel what you are trying to say in this writing and with the italics you give life to this writing .. yeah a good one and i hope you continue writing the way you are doing...
thanks for sharing and i hope you can check out my wriitng and leave a comment .. i would really appreciate it ...
take care
and peace and love
have a nice day
| Posted on 2006-03-30 00:00:00 | by vitoko | [ Reply to This ]
  wow, this is amazing.. you truly are a talented writer,. I loved every part of it, and I was like a kid in a candy store reading through this piece.. it leaves you wondering whats next? and I like that.. thank you for sharing this with us :)
Julie J-
| Posted on 2006-03-29 00:00:00 | by jules271 | [ Reply to This ]
  Jeezuz Steve, this is excellent writing. A perfect description of a day that everyone can imagine happening in their own lives.

Great story-telling, it never got boring, and I was SO glad that you didn't succumb to the temptation of giving him a dark ending.

Bloody neat. One typo maybe the dust floating in the sunlight?

Excellent and classy

be happy

| Posted on 2006-03-29 00:00:00 | by wewak11 | [ Reply to This ]
  I think I remember reading that poem that inspired this too. I like yours. As usual the descriptions were done quite well and you bring to light the corporate side of America where the small guy gets thrown out of business by a larger store. You feel bad for the small guy, but you cant blame the other store for being able to grab their niche of the American dream so to speak. Like Walmart...a lot of people hate them, but they were just a smart small business started by a family that have been able to live out their idea of Americana.
In your story it seems as if this store owner was kind of forced into retirement for not being able to compete in the marketplace. And you did a very good job in putting yourself as a writer into his thoughts. And you once told me you had a problem disassociating yourself from reality...HA! You did quite well in putting yourself in a different mindset with this one Steve. Thats just cool beans maynard.

Very good write, but thats just one of those things you have a knack for...writing good shee-at.
| Posted on 2006-03-28 00:00:00 | by hyproglo | [ Reply to This ]
  I think this is brilliant. I love the characters. I love the nostalgia. I love the glimpse of a culture being overwhelmed by progress. I think your descriptions are just about perfect, the dialog rings true, the scenes become alive, their honest and real. I'm sure this scenario has played out time and again in the last fifty or so years. You've left behind a lesson for us all. Progress sometimes replaces human understanding. What was once a personal contact, a social exchange, is now just a faceless business transaction. Try to remember the face of the last checkout person that rang up your stuff, yet everyone knew "Bill Hadley". Progress? I still remember the faces of our local Pharmicist, cobbler, and grocer, Mr. Pelletier, Mr Hooks, and Mr Coty. I don't know anyone at Wal-Mart. It was fifty years ago, but the human contact imprints the image. Today, it's never the same face twice.

Getting back to your piece, suffice to say, I will FAV it. It stirred memories for me, of bygone times and people I had forgotten. Thanks for posting this, it was just plain pleasurable to read. Loved it!

| Posted on 2006-03-27 00:00:00 | by phil askew | [ Reply to This ]
  I usually don't like long story-type pieces but I always try to read them; if I like the beginning I'll keep reading, if I don't I usually just move along. . . This captured me from the very beginning. It is so sad how something like a job or school or any environment is your life for so long and when that door shuts – and you know it's shutting – you reflect back on all the things that happened from the beginning to the end of that period in your life. I, personally, can relate to this feeling of "the last time" because I'm about to graduate high school. It's true that when one door closes another one opens and this piece is definitely reminiscing the in between moments of that. I really enjoyed this piece. It flowed tremendously well. I enjoyed your down-to-earth characters – it really relates to people. Great job. It's sad, and refreshing all at once - refreshing in that I'll be moving on from a world I've known for 12 years now and I'm beginning to accept that. :) Take care hun.

| Posted on 2006-03-27 00:00:00 | by borderlinetears | [ Reply to This ]
  So sad! (sniffling, as she paces the floor)
So long, his life. What is he going to do now?
I know it is bothering him so.
To have to leave what one has known all their life must be heartbreaking.
Will he now feel worthless or find ways to enjoy his retirement?
This write makes one want to read the outcome...Where did he go from here?
| Posted on 2006-03-27 00:00:00 | by AlabamaFarmGirl | [ Reply to This ]
  It's just a poem. It's just a poem. No reason to cry...

Knowing you as well as I do, and knowing how you hate change, I saw this piece geared more towards your feeling of losing a hobby that you have been able to enjoy for more than a decade.

That being said, the lines kept ringing with a correlating thought for you. Last time for the tip jar, for the mad rush to get that dance solidly in your head before class, helping a friend in a wheelchair. (I wonder how he'll handle this change...)

You capture the essense of people in tough situations with a realness that is almost spooky, and while I think the parenthesis are a bit distracting, i can't think of a better way top separate that...

So, it's wonderful this way!


| Posted on 2006-03-23 00:00:00 | by Chell | [ Reply to This ]
  Now this is more like you. The characterisation is superb, I almost feel like one of Bill’s customers. I can imagine that I’ve been coming to that store for years. You really get to the heart of that sense of loss in saying goodbye to the familiar. The repetition of ‘For the Last Time’ enhances the poignancy but I’m not so sure if the brackets work so well. Maybe italics, no you can’t you used that for direct speech. (Dash perhaps?) The conversations are very natural, I could just imagine having a similar one myself. Those little asides like the ‘No, this is silly’ and the ‘No, I don’t’ ‘No, what’s the point’ help us get inside his head and identify with his feelings. I love the clock on the wall running behind time it seems so suitable for this little store that is being usurped by the new store. I can just imagine a super-sized, impersonal supermarket usurping Bill’s store killing the community atmosphere. Terrific piece of work.
Take care
| Posted on 2006-03-23 00:00:00 | by comradenessie | [ Reply to This ]
  Honestly, a bit too long. You’re really conveying 2 messages. The 1st is this is about the closing of a store. The 2nd is about the human reactions to it. I think you spend too much time and words on the first, though your express the second well. If you began this piece somewhere in the area of the line, “Say, do you still have...those rootbeer sticks?” the 1st. part of the message would be well understood, and the shorter piece would have more impact. Some of the other lines are a bit too descriptive: “The windows he replaced when the hurricane broke them” could be simply, “The windows he replaced after the hurricane”. I like the “caught somewhere between Opie Taylor...” Although the character dynamics are a bit cliché, it works OK, and the word choices are interesting.
You’ve expressed the importance of conveying emotion in poetry. Although this is prose, I thiink you’ve achieved that purpose well. As for your dance class ending – I’ve often found myself led to other things by whatever power it is that lays out the breadcrumbs on the path we are to follow. I’m certain some other rich encounters are waiting for you.
| Posted on 2006-04-18 00:00:00 | by fredmelden | [ Reply to This ]

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