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ROSE COAST MARKET
Mallory’s curled hair bounces on the hood of her coat while she rushes to the Rosecoast Market. While trailing after her I get stuck on the other side of the street as cars accelerate past in the holiday rush.
Might as well grab dinner. I head to the sales rake by the far registers and grab a fresh ad in the middle of the stack. I struggle to flip through the new pages as they stick together. After flipping through to the end of the ad I found the food section. I head to the poultry noticing the single turkey breast on sale. I drop the ad halfway down the main isle. As I stand up after retrieving it I noticed a dark headed man with a chocolate birthmark on the left side of his neck walking past the registers. I quicken my pace, almost colliding with a man carrying two boxes of Hostess brownies, and duck into the toiletry aisle. I shove the ad in my face like a blind person and walk down the aisle just in case he walks past again. I feel a little bad, but I only wish I could have avoided so easily last year.
The jewelry box fell off my shelf wrapped in reindeer gift paper and tagged with my moms name and a short message. The loud shatter startled me from the closet. The paper was ripped on one conner and the bow was flattened. As I picked the box up I heard the glass fall from one side of the box to another. David had to hang up the mirror today. I thought. Not any other day in the two months it had been leaning up against the wall scuffing it. I could only imagine him hammering and hammering into the oak beam of the wall and with every hit my mothers gift jumping closer to the edge of the shelf. He let the nail fall out of the wall as he climbed down the ladder to help me. There were several holes surrounding the one he had been hammering. He sat on the floor next to me and put the rusty tool on our white duvet.
“I will get you another.” He said taking it out of my hands.
“It not necessary.” I said taking back the box and heading to the trash can with it.
“You never let me do anything nice for you.” He looked at me with one eyebrow bent down like a puppy dogs ears when they are trying to get you to pet them.
“You never consider what I want.” I said walking to the bed and picking up the hammer.
“I am not an expert” He exclaims moving to the bed and laying down with his work shoes on.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist.” I sat the hammer down on the bottom step to the ladder and flip the lights on.
If I were Mal where would I be? I stand there a moment and decide to shop in hopes that we run into each other when a familiar man catches my eye.
“Long time no see” I say saluting the man.
He salutes back “Never a bad time for a good salute” he says as he pulls me into a hug.
I pack his back one too many times as the hug lingers between us. After a minute he pulls away.
“Yeah, you home for the Holiday’s son?”
“Yep” I grab a Mountain Dew. “Hey you know where the sales ads are?”
“Oh yeah” He gestures down the aisle toward the last register. “Got all this on sale myself.”
“Oh yeah” I head off down the aisle. “Have a good one,” I say looking back.
After a good five minutes I lower the sales ad from my face and continue shopping. I realize I better grab a cart so I start walking up to the cart corral. As I approached a man was struggle with the wheel on his shopping cart. After a few jostles he straightens the wheel out and fixes his tie, face flushed. He leaves the store and a gust of cold air quickly replaces him. I throw the hood of my coat up remembering I was supposed to be incognito, grab a still cold cart, and head back to the freezer section.
In the poultry section I realize how hard it is to cook for one, but it was never easy cooking for two.
I throw the colonder into the sink with the metal pots and the burst of noise alarmed Dave. He looked up from his paperwork and walked over.
“Mal, you okay?” he asked in a calm tone putting his hands on my shoulders. I stood
Wordless in front of a pot of angel hair noodles bubbling up to the rim with heat. “Just tell me what you need,” he said massaging my shoulders and humming out of rhythm to All my Life playing on the radio in the living room. The sizzle of water hitting the hot burner started as I reached to turn off the heat. “You know your very tense” Dave said his massage turning into the comfortable squeezing of my shoulders. “Just let me finish dinner.” He said walking over to the sink to get the dented colonder.
“I have got it.” I said stepping in front of him and elbowing him out of the way. “It’s just this spot right here I can’t get off.” I scrubbed the spot with a rag in short quick movements. David peered at me from behind and in noticing my flaws sprinted across the kitchen to the broom closet for an sos pad. In my fit of furious scrubbing Dave takes the rag out of my grip and replaces it with the scrubbing pad. I rolled my eyes but accepted it anyway.
I crumple up the sales ad and shoot it in a nearby trash can. Part of me hopes I miss, but I sink the basket. I walk the long way around the store focing on the pattern of the floor tiles with my Mountain Dew swinging in my hand. I walk past the bakery, past the yogurt and dairy section, past the frozen and fresh meat, past the bread. and through the produce. I look up after bumping into a womens cart and see Mallory dark coat. I apologize quickly to the women and approach Mallory.
“Mal, nice to see you.” He looks at me with a cheshire cat smile.
His face is unchanged, rugged with prickly hair like a teenage boy without a razor.
“Yeah I bet.” I turn towards the celery stand beside me.
“Gettin dinner?” I look back at him as I pick up a bunch of celery.
“Yeah.” I grip a stock of celery.
“You umm . . . . shopping for the holidays.” He gestures to the turkey breast in my basket.
“No, it was on sale.” He takes the sales ad out of my basket. My grip tightens.
“What are you doing?” I ask hanging the basket off my other arm.
“I just threw mine away, but I like looking through the sales ads myself.”
I grabbed the ad. “You never used to.”
He lets me take it and opens his sweating soda. “Yeah I should probably go.” He eyes wander to the spice rack “ . . . Sage is in the car waiting on me.”
“Oh, a girlfriend?”
He takes a gulp. “Yeah, Sage . . . . Green.” He looks at the floor tiles. I grip the celery and turn around to the display. His voice interrupts me. “Yeah, she is like amazing.” His smile reappears. “She is so nice, she’s a great hugger, amazing to talk to, and umm . . . good with directions.”
I look over my shoulder “Sounds like you don’t want to keep a girl like that waiting.” I point to the parking lot with the celery, a stock hanging off the bunch.
“Right, she’s just waiting in the car.” He lingers.
I snap the hanging stock off the celery and I smile. “Hope you have a great holiday.”
He shakes his head and walks off with his coat dragging on the ground beside him. I stand there alone in the produce section, toss the mangled celery back with the other bunches and grab the one in best condition. I start to the checkout while shuffling through my purse for my wallet when I slip on a celery stalk. I sit there for a second, gather the upside down turkey and the celery laying in a dirt smudge.
A stores associate approaches and takes the basket out of my hands so that I can get up.
“Are you okay?” He asks his face ruff and unshaved.
“I will be.” I grab the basket and examine the damage.
“All they need is a little wash and they will be fine.” The intercom announces a name I can’t make out and asks for service in the flower kiosk. The man nods as he quickly paces the away as I mule over his words. All they need is a little wash and they will be fine.