VAGABONDS: ANTHOLOGY OF THE MAD ONES
Creative non-fiction about the lengths a woman goes to to avoid seeing a family member in the grocery store.
I turned my head away from the selection of packaged meats in the refrigerated deli section and looked to my right, unsure if I had seen correctly. I moved slowly, trying not to draw attention to myself. The wheelchair shopping cart was already several feet ahead of me. Its lower viewpoint ensuring that a shopper would have to look up to meet people’s eyes. The driver’s gaze was focused ahead, appearing to be contemplating a turn from this section to the next aisle. I froze, the shock of seeing her stopping my hand from completing its grasp of the ham I’d been about to pick up.
I looked at my cart, already half full with the week’s groceries. Should I ditch it? Run from the store? Put my provisions back and slip out? I did none of those things. Cautiously I made my way down and peered in the direction she had vanished. I saw the cart with its burden disappear into an aisle some rows down. Without thinking, I dashed down to the diapers and school supplies lane, wheels flapping at the hurried speed. It was a safe place, neither of us having a need to visit this part of the store. Beads of sweat gathered on my upper lip as I took several deep breaths, trying to decide what to do next.
It was remarkable she hadn’t seen me, something I could only attribute to the height difference. If she had I knew the market would be ringing with loud declamations and ugly words. My choice to break off contact had been one of necessity, but that didn’t make my current situation any simpler.
Mentally scratching this particular store off my list, I crept down the aisle and peered around the boxes of cereal and energy drinks, looking for the telltale cart. None was in sight. I reviewed the groceries I had yet to buy. Foolhardy or brave, I decided to continue.
My heart hammering loud in my ears, I braved a turn into the granola bars and rice cakes section. Snatching up my needed items, I tossed them in the cart and hurried down to the end of that aisle and looked out into the common area. It was safe, for the time being. At any time, that could change. Here there be dragons, I thought ruefully.
Peering out again I caught sight of the cart again, this time moving back the way it had come, as if my mother was doing concentric circles in the grocery store, without a coherent plan.