The red jelly hearts aren't easy to find. Even on Valentine's Day. Not the cinnamon-flavored, the cherry-flavored ones. It doesn't say "cherry-flavored" on the wrapper. But I know them when I see them.

It was the afternoon and school was out for the day.  A woman was there picking through bags of pink gummi bears and valentine lollipops, and her son and her granddaughter were with her. She stood with her back to them, in a way that you knew they were together.

The father and daughter stood together in a way that, you knew.

He spoke in her ear without whispering, and he ran his hands up and down the girl's arms. She tilted her head back and smiled as only a girl in love can.

The grandmother looked over her shoulder and said, stop that, in a way that sounded more weary than mad.

The girl leaned back in his arms and played with his fingers and talked, in a way, about candy.

I left, more ashamed than angry.

More weary than sad.

You live in the world and you can't hear it ticking.

A kid builds a pipe bomb, a man shoots his lover, a young mother smothers her child and then goes to the prom.

You read it and wonder what makes them do it.

You read it and wonder what makes them tick.

But you know when it stands without shame right beside you, and you know, in a way, that it's ticking.


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