He wasn’t even family, not by blood anyway. Olive assumed when her Aunt Heather divorced her Uncle Ricks it meant he wasn’t her uncle anymore, he was just Ricks. She saw just Ricks at the grocery deli counter. It was the first time she’d seen him since the divorce and she felt it was so personal: witnessing him in a private moment of getting his solitary needs met. Before she could dive down an aisle he called her name loud across the artisan breads. He set down his basket to hug her–strong, like when her grandfather died. He asked how’s school, if her car’s running OK; he said they should get coffee sometime, giving her his phone number, call anytime.
He’s just lonely, her mom says after she recounts the meeting. A clerk returns with another shoebox. Olive pulls on the shoes, fastening the buckle around her ankle and paces, trying to notice any sore spots.