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Gerald Greene: Shopping Cart Hero

When God handed out superpowers, He shortchanged Gerald Greene. Gerald Greene could move shopping carts with his mind. That was all that he could do. He'd spent hours trying with all kinds of other objects, both with wheels and without. Bikes and cars, his toy trucks. None of them would budge. Only shopping carts.

His mother looked at him in the rear-view mirror on the way to the grocery store. "Gerry, please stop sulking. I can't leave you and your brother at home alone."

He crossed his arms over his chest. His baby brother was strapped in beside him, with extra straps given his abilities. Gerald didn't need extra straps on his seat and he hated that too.

"I'll let you push the cart if you're good," his mother said, which just made him sulk harder.

The manager bustled over to them as they entered the store.

"He can come in, as long as he stays with you, Mrs. Greene," he said, pointing a finger at Gerald. Gerald tried to look small and innocent.

"What did you do?" she asked.

"What? What makes you think I did anything?" Gerald asked.

"I trust him," his mother said. "I don't trust you."

"We were just messing around. It wasn't my fault that the carts all got away," he said as they plodded through the dairy section.

"Gerald Reginald Greene," his mother said.

"No one got hurt," he pleaded. "I stopped them in time. But, well, some of them hit the cars. A little bit."

"Honestly, Gerald. Can't you use your superpowers for good?"

And that made Gerald sulk harder. He did want to be good, like the superheroes, but he couldn't be a hero with a silly power like his.

They walked past the meat counter, the deli, and the soup aisle in silence. Gerald trudged along. When his mother wasn't looking, he pushed other people's carts. Just enough that the cart wasn't where they thought it was. His brother laughed and clapped his hands.

"Honestly, Gerald. Can't you take your power more seriously?" his mother asked. "Do you see anyone else in the store messing around like this?"

Everywhere he saw people levitating cans into their carts, super-speed shoppers rushing through the aisles, and a kid using x-ray vision to see the toys in cereal boxes. He didn't say anything. Instead, he followed her and made faces at his brother.

Gerald fidgeted in the check-out line, his mother too close for him to do anything more, but eventually they were out of the store and almost away from shopping carts forever. Or until next week.

"Oh, I forgot the jelly. Watch your brother while I run back inside," his mother said.

Gerald sighed. So close.

Baby brother cried and screamed for Mommy. Gerald tried to shush him, but there was no reasoning with a baby.

"You wanna go for a ride?" he asked his brother.

"Yeah!" his brother answered. "Go for a ride!"

Gerald pushed the cart around, slowly at first, just to keep his brother quiet. And then faster and faster and out into the parking lot.

"Someone stop that run-away cart! There's a child in it!" a man shouted.

Gerald looked around the parking lot, confused, until he realized it was his cart that all the fuss was about.

More shouts came.

"I can't stop it."

"I'll hurt the boy."

"Someone do something."

Gerald shouted at the top of his little lungs, "I can stop it!"

He stepped forward and made big hand gestures. The cart ran almost out of control for a moment longer, and then he brought it to a dramatic stop just in front of him. His little brother laughed and laughed. People applauded.

"Gerald!" his mother shouted behind him. Gerald cringed.

"Ma'am, your boy's a hero," someone said.

"Thank you," she replied through clenched teeth.

Gerald put his head down and lifted his brother out of the cart. He slid into his car seat as his mother buckled his brother in with the extra straps.

She looked across to him. "Honestly, can't you even pretend to be good?" she asked.

Gerald flexed his fingers. Pretending was easy.

About the Author
Dianne M. Williams is a speculative fiction writer living in Lawrence, Kansas. She enjoys finding the humor and horror in everyday things. Her short fiction has appeared at Hot Metal Bridge, Untied Shoelaces of the Mind, and Speculative Story Bites. You can follow her on Twitter at @diannethewriter.
Background image by ESO/IDA/Danish 1.5 m/R.Gendler, J-E. Ovaldsen, C. Thöne, and C. Feron.
http://www.eso.org/public/images/etamosaicnm2/, CC BY 4.0, Link