Shoot, she thought, irritated, when she reached into the bread basket and found it empty. How could she be so absent-minded? All the farm fresh bread had been eaten up yesterday, when Lilly came visiting unexpectedly. All the biscuits and the leftover pies were polished off too.
They had chatted over endless cups of herbal tea, as her best friend of twenty five years tried to explain to her why it was a good idea to forget the past and move on. It was time she found herself a nice young man and fall in love all over again. But at the end of the conversation, Jenny was as heartbroken as she had been before. Things were just not moving forward, however hard she tried.
Pangs of hunger reminded her that she’d better head to the supermarket and get the shopping over with. It was a bright Saturday morning, and the store was bound to be crowded with families. It was a small town and nearly everyone knew everyone. She cringed at the thought of the sympathetic glances she would get from people. After all, who did not know about how her fiancée had disgracefully called off their wedding for no apparent reason. She wished she did not have to go, but she decided to leave before the store got too crowded.
She knew the whole trip was doomed when her car refused to start. She had a strong temptation to kick it. It had been a present from her parents to commemorate her high school graduation ten years ago, and was well past its sell-by date. “So am I”, Jenny thought to herself, morosely.A few more attempts later, the car finally started and Jenny reached the supermarket. She chose a trolley and proceeded to pick up her groceries. She knew the supermarket like the back of her hand and so very soon, she was almost done. She was just tossing the last few items she’d bought, into her trolley when she spied a packet of jellybeans she’d definitely not picked up. Maybe it had fallen in by mistake, she thought, as she kept the packet back on the shelf. Now she only had to pick up the sour cream, and she’d be done. As she steered the trolley, she saw a box of muffins lying in it- again something she did not need. As she looked around, wondering what on earth was happening, she felt a sharp pain shooting up her ankle, like somebody had kicked her. She glared down to see a small boy, about eight years old, giving her a naughty smile and dropping a box of fries into her trolley. She kept back the fries angrily-how much worse could the day get!!- and caught hold of the child’s wrist. A man, obviously looking for him, came running to them, apologizing for the boy’s antics. “I’m extremely sorry, has he been troubling you?”
“You should learn how to handle your children”, she retorted, spewing anger.
“I’m terribly apologetic. Actually, his mom is in the hospital for a couple of days, so I’m having to take care of him. I’m pretty bad at it. And now I’m having to shop as well- another thing I’m not great at. Having to handle both is a little cumbersome! I’m sorry, I should’ve taken more care of him”.
Jenny looked at them. The little boy’s mother was in the hospital, he was probably not happy without her. She looked man holding at the shopping list the unwell woman in the hospital had written down. He was having a tough time locating the commodities. She thought it was now her turn to play a little game. She had plenty of time anyway.
She picked up a carton of full fat milk at put it into the man’s trolley. He looked up at her, surprised. “We women all use the same shorthand”, she said, pointing to an item on the list, “1 crt mk, ff , stands for one carton of milk, full fat!”, she told him with a smile. He looked at her gratefully as she took the list from his hand and proceeded to help him. In less than twenty minutes, they were done, and the proceeded to the billing section. They went to different cashiers.
When Jenny had another look into her trolley at the counter, there was a box of those very pretty heart shaped chocolate wrapped in red foil. But this time she did not return it. It had been a while since she’d tasted them- she’d been dieting for a while- to lose weight for her wedding- the wedding that was never going to happen.
When she had finally paid her bill and picked up her bags, she noticed the child standing near the exit gate, with the man, waiting for her. She nodded and told him, “I hope your wife gets well soon. This little prankster misses his mom!”
“Uh, she’s not my wife actually!”
“Oh, sorry, partner, then?”
“No! She’s my sister. This naughty kid out here is my nephew!”
Suddenly, Jenny felt the hot blood rising to her cheeks. She was embarrassed and did not know what to say. But she did not have to say anything, for the man spoke.
“Do you shop here regularly?”
“Yes, on Saturday mornings.”
“Even I tend to do my shopping on Saturday mornings!” He was giving her a shy smile. The same smile every man has when he meets a wonderful woman.
The rest was left unsaid. They’d look for each other next weekend, they both knew it. Who knows what that could lead to!
She felt light-headed and unusually happy as she walked towards her car to return home. She got into it and turned on the ignition while she hummed her favourite song. The usually difficult to start car started in one attempt. Now that was a very good sign.