I stood in line at the market and placed my items on the revolving black belt; I stood, waiting for it to move my dish soap and a salad, closer to the scanner. I stood absently there for what seemed like forever, even though I was the next in line and the guy before me had only two items too.
I stared at the magazines, the ones that talk about celebrities, whose faces have moved in with their asses and the boyfriend who dumped his girlfriend for being too kinky. I saw the pictures of pretty gone awry, proclaimed in bold headlines spouting their problems like they’re real life. I stared but didn’t see.
My eyes saw me standing in a line oblivious to everyone, ignoring everything, escaping myself. They witnessed my indifference to the lack of soap and the need to get out of the house, maybe it was hunger.
My vision moved inward, losing sight of the bald man in front of me in blue khakis and a white button down shirt, pocketing his pack of gum and smokes, constituting his lunch. I didn’t see the brightly colored balloons promising a Happy Birthday Pops or the old ladies huddled by the scale, bitching about the price of cherries. “They’re $7.00 per pound!” “Oh my, that’s ridiculous,” a wrinkled hand feigned shock.
Instead I noticed his side of the bed now forever cold and his untouched clothes hanging listlessly in his closet. His spotless sink in the bathroom dry, contrary to all my desires.
My ears went deaf to the noise of the cash register ringing up trivial sales, to the PA system calling for help, ‘clean up in aisle 156’ or ‘lost child, please report to customer service’ and I didn’t hear the old man who bags the groceries say hello or the thunder sending innocent people scurrying through the sliding glass doors.
I only heard my husband’s laughter when I asked him to watch a sappy movie for the second time. “Oh not again, is this the third time this week?” His loud snore so many nights waking us both still drone in my ears and his squirrelly footsteps as he snuck downstairs for chocolate when he thought me sleeping echo in my head.
The scent of the fresh flowers and pungent fruit eluded me. I carelessly past the fresh fish counter without noticing the telltale odor of yesterday’s flounder.
His smell lingers wistfully in my nostrils as I lose myself in his sweater so I can inhale him and not forget.
The air conditioning blasting through its vents blew right threw my shadow and the immediacy of the young boy reaching for the plastic, shining toy went unnoticed. I wasn’t bumped by the wayward cart that escaped its owner and I couldn’t feel the soft squishiness of overripe melons.
I could only feel relief and guilt, guilt for the relief, in every shelf, at every turn, hiding behind the ketchup and in the deli case, too embarrassed to be seen. Guilt searching for relief, lost in the health aid aisle, both plastered all over me in full frontal view of the Publix’s shoppers. There was only relief and guilt that hounded me after his death. With no more hospital, I could get on with life, life without Dave.
Like a ghost above, I thought my thoughts and felt my feelings outside myself. I wasn’t there! If you asked me, “did you go to the market today?’ I’d be lying if I said yes, because I don’t remember handing the five dollars over to the tattooed cashier and can’t recall him smiling as he corrected my incorrect change, giving back the nickel I mistook for a quarter because I couldn’t see passed the tears.
Truly I wasn’t in the supermarket today. Beyond myself, like a fly floating in the wind, I tried to grasp my thoughts and shelve unwanted feelings.
“Attention shoppers, we have a special today on cloaked guilt and remorseful relief. We have an abundant supply so there’s no purchase limit, get all you want.”
I didn’t hear about that sale because I wasn’t in the market today.
TERRY MCKEE, recently relocated to southern Florida, is a mother of three almost grown children and is enjoying her free time. Writing is one of several passions she now gets to purse regularly, although the lovely weather sometimes makes it difficult. Writing began as an organizational outlet for Terry in the form of journaling, later it grew into a career as a journalist for various local newspapers and freelance writer, drawing on her many life experiences.
Always looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary, some of Terry’s other stories have been published in Skive Magazine, Long Story Short, Prosetoad and Moondance. Any comments will be welcomed; she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.