THE GROCERY STORE

Monday, February 14, 2011

It started with chicken breasts falling, chicken breasts falling off the over-stuffed shelf to the row below, an equally crammed expanse of grayish-pink poultry bodies. The slapping noise jolted her out of her moody thoughts and brought her back to reality: the grocery store, Monday, 3 pm.

The act of bending to pick up the fallen packages embarrassed her almost as much as the noise they'd made, that bare and open sound of flesh striking flesh, a noise that was so raw and primal she wanted to close her eyes for a minute, just a minute, while she got her bearings and was able to respond, with a quick, confident smile, to the gazes of the young couple and the dirty toddler beside her.

"Just chicken breasts falling," she thought, but as the shelf continued to waver beneath its weight, her unsteady hand sent more chicken breasts falling like dominoes--like lemmings, she thought. It could have, it should have, been comical, but with that feeling in her head each slap felt like a warranted reproach, and with all eyes seemingly on her in painful accusation, all she really wanted to do was cry.

The toddler was grimy and scantily dressed for the chill of the meat aisle, and the mother had bad teeth, chipped and gaping, the teeth of a mouth she could hardly imagine kissing, let alone loving to the point of creating a baby, and she momentarily felt cynical, but then the absurdity of her own situation--the fact of the breasts falling, the fact of the breasts, the breasts that were not unlike her own breasts, the breasts she'd used to feed her kids, the "time bombs," she'd heard, "waiting to happen"--hit her and she succumbed once more to the feeling that had overtaken her, the feeling that had made everything so strange and shaky in the first place.

2 comments:

rajmb said...

Wow! This is quite amazing!

Isabel said...

Merci rajmb! A beginning of something, maybe!

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