Are Those your Muffins?

This was the prompt I got at today's writing meeting. What I'm about to write here is rough, but I do plan to use a similar version in one of my novels. Enjoy!

"Are those your muffins, pudding?" the toothless man asked, the tips of his grimy fingers aimed at my shopping basket.

I walked around him, in no mood to talk to anyone, and fled down the aisle at a brisk pace. I'd become absorbed in reading the labels of tea boxes when the scents of body odour and alcohol assaulted my nose and stung my eyes.

"Are those your muffins?" he asked again. This time his finger tapped the plastic lid right above a large blueberry.

"Please leave me alone." I took several steps backward then darted toward the deli, my last stop before I could go home for the evening and crawl into bed with my Ben and Jerry's ice cream and a bag of cookies. Chocolate chunk, not chocolate chip. This was one seriously brutal day and I needed all the soothing I could get.

How dare the world treat me this way? Fired from a job I needed, but hated. A parking ticket for stopping to drop off library books. And, to top it all off, dateless on a Friday night while my boyfriend was out of town. Self-pity followed me up and down the aisles, helping me fill the basket to brimming.

The old man found me in line at the checkout, his aroma so pungent that everyone stepped aside in his wake. "Are those your muffins?"

"Yes, those are my muffins! Now leave me alone!"

He blinked his watery blue eyes. "Sorry, pudding, I just wanted to tell you that they were moldy and you'd get sick." He handed me a different package. "Take these instead."

As he swam away in my tears, I left behind the Ben and Jerry's and took home the tea, the mold-free muffins, and left my self-pity at the checkout.

All it took was one stranger to care.


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