Eggs, milk, bread, butter, peanut butter…
Should have written it all down, or used the damn phone for more than…
“Turn left at the next intersection.”
What else is on?
“If you leave me now…”
“Lady in red…”
“She knocked me out with those American…”
The kids; did Sheila pick them up?
“Weather warning: snow squalls and…”
About thirty-five pages tonight… Not a break; not even with time-and-a-half…
“Rock the casbah, rock…”
No traffic; not bad on a Friday.
“Return all carts to the proper section after use.”
Five things…anything I missed?
Brown bread? Sheila likes it; kids hate it?
Bagels, baguettes (whole wheat, Parisian, large…)
“Just like me, they long to be…”
Need to bring my earphones next time…
Where’s my phone?
“honey, we also need those olives Jessica loves and Michael said that he did not have a granola bar for lunch so dont forget to grab some with chocolate on it see you soon”
Need a basket.
“Attention, shoppers. We invite you to try our cheese selections!”
Well, if I am here.
And it is starting…
Snow squalls…cold snap…Snap, Crackle, Pop…do we need cereal?
What about brie, Gouda, St. Paulin, Swiss…blue…don’tcha make my brown eyes…
Really need my earphones next time.
“Hi! Have you tried our…?”
Nice girl. Michael would probably try to ask her out. Impressive kid…Michael, I mean. Jeez.
“did you find the olives?”
“Right on it. The kids home?”
“all home. Just waiting for their devoted father to come back and eat them.”
“*eat dinner with them.”
Truth in advertising?
“It is very…Gouda.”
Well, this one knew her customer service lessons. Always laugh until they leave…
And what’s next?
Okay, we’re getting more cheese. Anything not bright orange in a jar works for me…
Bread…Wonder. I wonder…
Olives! Why so close to the bread? Green and black (getting both)…
Brain freeze! Work, school, picnic, regrettable business trip…?
University; definitely back to that time. Another decade and a half behind them…
“How are you?”
“How are you?”
Small talk in a supermarket. Almost made it out of here. Excuse I can make?
“Wife wants me to pick up a few things.”
“Ball and chain?”
Do people really say that? Well, she did…
Why did we even break up?
She just fixed her hair. Red barrette with teeth (is that what they are?).
Remembering that thing I gave her for her hair (much longer back then…the hair, not the thing…).
Where is my head?
Ah, we broke up after that party. She had a roommate. My roommate knew about it and had no tact. Like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. You don’t bed hop with someone’s girlfriend…
“Maybe I’m her ball and chain…”
Same laugh. Same ringing of those chimes in her voice…
Girlfriend? Was that what we were? Don’t remember that with us?
And now, hand on my arm… No ring.
“We should stay in touch.”
No ring… How did she end up ringless? Ringless? My head is just…
“I never really settled down.”
“I don’t think I did. Just settled.”
Still smiling. Basket’s getting heavy. Still need…what?
“You need to head back home.”
Brown eggs. Definitely brown ones.
“Your wife texted to remind you.”
Granola. Quaker Oats is good. Store brand might work. Something really chocolately.
“And you are a good guy.”
Butter. Peanut butter (crunchy as hell).
“Yes, a good guy.”
Could someone please tell them they were blocking the aisle?
No luck; one old woman staring at the prices for mayonnaise, only. What the hell? What the Hellman’s?
Bad to work in advertising.
“You do know that I still regret how it all ended.”
Quick glance at the old woman. No, no mayo tonight. No Miracles being Whipped…
Am I sweating?
“We should have tried harder to make up.”
“We…um, I remember that you were the one…”
Announcement (not prerecorded this time): “Attention, shoppers…”
She was the hopping one.
“…due to the weather conditions announced earlier…”
It was his roommate; his friend.
“…the supermarket will be closing at 8 pm tonight.”
She wanted something else. Someone else.
“Thank you for shopping at…”
He put the basket down. The bread and olives bounced in the plastic.
“Nice to see you, Laura.”
Peanut butter. Butter. Eggs. The list was in his hands.
“Say hi to everyone for me.”
He dropped the list into the basket, scooped it up and…well…
He was already near the coolers.
Eggs and butter (brown and salted). And milk right beside it all (Skim for them).
She was still there.
Right by the tubs.
A quick turn. The unplanned moment for it.
A kiss. Warmth by her neck. Scent of her in his head.
Not bad. Late night and basket of food. A good challenge.
In the other direction, he sped off for the express lane.
Granola! To the bars...
Candy aisle. Cookies and chocolates. Store brand right there.
Laura. That was her perfume. Right behind him.
Ring hand; the small of his back.
“Yeah, I know. Family and all that.”
Card in his back pocket.
A moment to take her in. No basket. No trolley. Just…was that wine?
Was that his phone?
“hey, you get lost? Weather is nasty now. Get back here.”
He put the card in his hands.
Professional card. Embossed. Gold and black.
A small laugh.
The basket felt light.
No sightings at the line. Two other men (good sign). Older clerk he knew. No drama.
“Yeah, you better.”
Frown. Was that almost a threat?
Outside, raw drifts of snow. Cold knives of wind in his jacket (parka next time).
No need for the trunk. Car had to heat up for a bit. At least thirty minutes before he got home. No crowds out here, too.
Radio might have a surprise.
“MY GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE?”
Volume! David Byrne scared him.
“Everything. And some extras…”
;) - nice to see.
He pulled out. Not slick on the road. Traffic at main exit not bad. Music worked (all new wave on this station).
“oh, I forgot something!”
“I’m on the highway.”
“No, I met someone you know. Said she was an ex.”
He did not reply.
“Laura. Remember her? That was back in university. Remember? My roommate. Damn. A long time ago.”
He remembered the card.
He remembered Sheila never looked in his wallet.
The road ahead was clear.