It lingered there for two weeks before anyone moved it, touched it.

A cart in the Wal-Mart side lot, heaped with groceries in bags. They were brand new, just purchased, still sealed. Potato chips, canned goods, snacks. Not the healthiest foods, maybe, but foods nonetheless.

Someone just abandoned the cart there, filled with edible, usable, food.

At first people probably thought that it was just a mistake, that the owner would come back. But then it entered a strange sort of twilight realm. The stuff was sealed, nonperishable, so it was still good. But there must have been a reason it was abandoned, right?

A couple were trying to beg for money nearby for a while, their ramshackle van parked with a sign soliciting charity. They never approached the cart, never touched it, though they were there for two days and it was on plain sight. There must have been a reason it was abandoned, right?

Maybe it was some psycho that had laced every last package with poison, to anonymously murder the unwary. They could easily have done it, in the side parking lot. No fingerprints, no witnesses.

People were clearly tempted. One of the items on top was a big bag of name, brand–premium!–potato chips, just the sort of thing to hit a snacky soft spot. There was a similarly unopened six-pack, mighty refreshing in the intense summer heat. But still, no one touched a thing. No one even moved the cart, which was taking up a whole parking space on its own.

Once it was rained on, that was the end of the mystery. Someone might be tempted by abandoned food, but not if it’s been rained on. Even if it was non-perishable and sealed, which it was. The store employees were by a day or two later, unceremoniously dumping the contents into a skip alongside the building that was meant for food waste. Whatever calories were locked inside, whatever energy was put into their manufacture for good or ill, it was now beyond human ken, beyond human stomachs, forever.

Its secrets, one might say, were taken to the grave. Of course, there must have been a reason it was abandoned, right?

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