Easter Candy


Melissa Dickson

Sometimes the most noticeable thing in a room is absence. The absence of a friend, or even the lack of people in general; but when questions like, “Do you know if John will be in class today?” turn into, “do you think Target will have toilet paper?”, something greater is at hand. You’re bound to notice when your best friend skips class, but it won’t be startling. Walking into the grocery store in March of 2020 however, was.

The look of stocked shelves, the sound of strangers bantering, the common courtesy of holding open a door, the smell of anything but Lysol, all normalcies we took for granted. There was never a second thought in December about cracking a joke with the person next to you in line or making funny faces at the baby crying in front of you. Although COVID-19 is not spread through eye contact but you’d think it was. Nobody looks, says or does anything normally anymore, because what is normal? I pass by aisles expecting only to see the traces of where flour and sugar bags were and am not surprised by toilet paper and flushable wipes having signs hang in their stead bearing the words “due to high demand to support all guests, we will be limiting the quantities to 1 per quest”. All we can do is adapt.

So often I crave alone time and silence, but never at Target. I didn’t realize that I wanted to feel like I was eavesdropping on someone’s conversation in the bread aisle. Did I mention that they were out of bagels? Bagels! Anyway, they weren’t even playing music in the store; a background noise I hadn’t noticed before, but desired now more than anything. The moment of eye contact I had to bear with the person standing in the aisle I needed entrance to was nothing short of awkward, but I did my part, standing six feet away.

The spaces in between the merchandise grew larger as I made my way into the essentials section of the store until I reached the water aisle, empty. Incandescent lighting made the dirty metal of the shelves snare at me, but something was glimmering to my left. Pinks, greens, blues, oranges, purples and yellows all screaming at me; Easter candy, of course. It was the simplest thing to see gold-wrapped bunnies and iridescent paper filled baskets, but it made me smile and I laughed. The seemingly silly act of receiving sweets on the day of Jesus’ rising is exactly what’s going to keep everyone sane. Mothers are still going to buy out that shelf to make baskets for their children on Sunday morning regardless of if they open their laptops for Church. All of these thoughts ran through my head as my iPhone snapped a clear shot of the aisle, color on the left and its absence on the right.

I walked out of the store that day, having to stop myself from holding the door open for the woman behind me and filled my car with the smell of 60% alcohol and 40% cucumber melon. I looked out my window, watching people exit the same way I did, alone and passing the faded red spheres that were nothing but giant germs now. So many things were missing from the picture. The lack of toilet paper was alarming, yes, but in a 30-minute trip to Target I had no interactions with the people inside which shocked me more. I wasn’t expecting to notice the absence of those interactions because I hadn’t taken much time to consider their presence. The coming months are filled with mysteries and there’s no way to know what groceries stores will look like in the future, but this Easter there will be candy, and that is good enough for me.