"You can not get a refund. I've told you this twice" he heard the man say, in an irritated and raised voice. Automatically he glanced over to see a young, pimply faced boy say to the woman. The boy was no doubt the son or nephew of the small market's owner, throwing his clout around to seem important in a store that was well liked by it's customers. He thought immediately that this was probably the only place this little jerk felt any resemblence to authority or respect. His Adam's Apple was grossly pronounced, his mousy brown hair was greasy with large flakes of white at what was supposed to be a part and his complexion was too horrid for the largest case of Proactive.
"Ok, thank you for your help anyway" the woman sheepishly said as she backed her cart away from the small counter that served as the service desk and clearly embarrassed, she darted away from the beady eyes of Pimple Boy and into the produce isle.
Her voice had a familiarity to it.
He continued his mission for tonight's dinner. Steaks on the grill with some buddies--he was certainly looking forward to that after the tiring week of moving all of his belongings into the new rental house in the sleepy little town that was on the outskirts of the plastic factory he'd been working at for over 8 months now. As much hoopla that had been made over the quaint little market, he was not impressed. He grabbed 4 rib-eye steaks from the meat cooler that didn't quite measure up to what he was hoping for. And, they were not cheap! He headed towards the produce section looking for some decent baking potatoes and Romaine lettuce for a salad. He had already been given the first of the season's tomatoes and cucumbers out of his mother's garden two days prior. That's when he saw her again. This time a young boy of about eight or nine was rolling his eyes at her as she shook her head in disapproval of the 12 pack of bubble gum that he was poking at her. The boy reminded him of someone he once knew, too. Odd. The lad stomped off to return the sugary demon back to it's original spot, shaking his head and mumbling his disdain. From the potato bin, he could see her look toward the boy, watching him make it safely to the candy isle. Her hair was platinum blonde, she was short in stature and overweight. She was wearing denim shorts and a Barbie tee-shirt. He could tell she took time to look presentable for her excursion. He watched as she checked her shopping list, marked a line through something and grabbed a cellophane bag, most likely for the lemons she was standing in front of. That's when he recognized her.
The object of his affections some 20 plus years ago. He stood watching her, carefully but quickly grabbing lemons and chucking them into the bag before her son came back to rush her. Yes, that young boy was her son, he looked exactly like her husband. Her husband, she was involved with him when he wanted to be so much more than friends in high school. He had heard, a couple of years after he graduated, that she and he had gotten married in their small hometown--the town he was now calling home. He remembered how he felt when he saw the proof, the announcement in the Sunday newspaper, of the news he had heard only weeks before. He never could quite come up with the word that described exactly how he felt. There probably wasn't just one word for the gauntlet of emotions he went through on that Sunday afternoon. He was saddened mostly. She really was the only girl that really knew him, she was really the only girl he had loved. He had loved her. He had loved her passionately. That's what probably ruined everything for "them". Even though theirs' was a clandestine relationship, it was a real and powerful relationship, nonetheless.
He kept his head down as he watched her. He noticed how hurried her actions were. He noticed that she too kept her head down as she scurried from vegetable bin to refrigerator bin picking out the right vegetables and fruits to feed her family. He smiled inwardly. That had not changed. She always put everything and more importantly, everyone, before herself. Another reason, one she admitted to him numerous times, that "they" couldn't be together. Her son came running back, this time with an overpriced magazine. He demanded that he could not live without it. She sweetly told him that this time he would not be able to get it. The boy was livid at her response and began to berate her. He watched her take the magazine from the son that looked so much like his father and put it into the buggy. This of course pleased the boy and he skipped off to certainly find another "must-have". He watched her shoulders droop, he saw her mark a few more items off her shopping list and head out of the produce section.
She wheeled the cart, head down, toward the laundry isle.
He quickly followed, leaving his own cart and pathetic steaks right where they were. He found her pricing Tide, but settling for Cheer. He noticed a worried look on her face as she fumbled in her purse for the ringing cell phone. She answered, giving the caller a run down of the night's menu. That was her husband, he was sure of it. He heard her tell him she loved him and he must have asked how long she was going to be because he heard her give him a time. This expedited her trip. He felt like a creepy stalker following his long lost high school love from isle to isle. He hated himself for it, for watching her moves and not pitching in to help her out, but he could not bring himself to let her know he was there. He certainly didn't want her to see the disappointment in his eyes. This was not the girl he loved then, loved still. The feisty and peppy girl that he visited still in his dreams would never had let Pimple Boy off so easy. That girl would have gotten her refund and a couple of smart-alec comments in, in the process. The sweet but sturn young girl he had known would never had caved so quickly to a young boy (regardless) for anything. He had loved that so about her. She was so liked by everyone and that was important to her all those years ago, but she also stood firm in what she believed in and was sometimes disliked for that. She didn't let that keep her from walking through the halls of that school with her head held high. She never would have even contemplated going anywhere with her chin ducked. Again, he loved that about her. She was exhausting at times for him, but he never could be mad with her for she had immense strength and pride. She was by no means proud, she was strong. He had never found a woman with the strength of that girl. He didn't want her to see the soreness, still, in his eyes for the man--now her husband--who held so much power over her. It still hurt his heart to admit that. He didn't want her to see the sadness on his face at how she seemed to let her appearances go. Not that she wasn't still pretty, but her weight showed that she was at the very bottom of any totem pole in her life. The lines around her eyes revealed more than years of laughing. That hurt his heart as well.
He watched her gather up her precarious son and look for the shortest check out line. He watched her converse shyly with the cashier. Again, that wasn't the girl of his past. She would have been laughing and chatting with all she passed. He watched and listened as she thanked the young girl bagging her groceries and call her boy, "sweet-heart". His eyes followed her as she returned the shopping cart to it's spot and grab out the bags. His heart stopped for one brief, shining moment as she scanned the store before leaving and locked eyes with him. Then, for the first time since he'd seen her, he saw a glimpse of the girl he loved. She flashed the most amazing smile his way. He couldn't be for certain if she recognized him. All he did know for certain was that along with his girl, that woman walked out of the market.
--I got the idea for this from a prompt saying write something from an old bf/gf's point of view. First time using a writing prompt. Hope it's ok.
God is Love--Peace Out