"Do you sell lighters?" He asked the salesgirl, placing the boxed candle on the wooden counter.
"No, we don't. Be right with you." The girl said without looking at him. Focuses on her task, she added the second part as an afterthought, like an homage to customer service. She was finishing up the bouquet, her busy fingers tying a knot at its base, then, with deft snips of her scissors, she cut the ends of the glossy, green ribbon wrapped tight around the stems. She wore rimless glasses and tense concentration on her narrow, angular face, but her features relaxed and softened once she'd completed the task. She looked younger and, perhaps, even beautiful then.
She turned to pick up the box on the counter and gave her customer a brief, polite smile. "I'm glad you were able to find it," she said, scanning the barcode on the bottom, "It'll be 12.99. Would you like me to remove the price tag for you?"
"That won't be necessary," he said, paying with a twenty dollar bill. She gave him the change, placed his purchase in a small paper bag, and handed it over with both hands, like an offering.
"Here you are, have a nice day." she said.
"You too." He answered, taking the bag, then he turned and walked out of the verdant shop and into the gloom of unaffecting brightness outside.
He wandered, unhurried, past the town-hall, remembering that ornate second floor room whose heavy, wood-paneled walls were covered in old paintings commemorating the town's history and its luminaries, where a sash-wearing city official had baptized them as one, on a day not unlike this one, over fifty years before. But he also remembered that he'd felt the heat then, and that he'd been nervous as his parents and her parents watched, standing beneath those stern portraits and imprinting on the short ceremony an added air of solemnity. So he'd held onto her hand for comfort and she held right back, their fingers clasped like hands in prayer.
He stopped at a small convenience store to buy a lighter, unable to keep from noticing the orange and white wrapping of her favorite chocolate bar. The one he'd often pick up to say 'thank you' or to apologize - or to preempt an apology - or, just because. So he picked one up, too, almost sheepish, as if the clerk would read into his intentions and think him a silly old man. He placed the candy in the bag, next to the candle, pocketed the lighter and left. The clerk wished him a good day on his departure, almost as he was out the door, and he nodded unable to form the words himself.
Usually he would notice the people in the streets, new shops, signs in windows, he would be aware of the time, the temperature, the events of the day, but now he was like an automaton on a charted course, drifting, but drifting true, to a destination only he knew.