Pat saw a young woman inspecting tomatoes. She had gold sandals, a bruise above her calf, and denim shorts cut off and frayed high up her thighs. She picked up a tomato, squeezed it with slender fingers, and then placed it down gently, like a chess piece. When she did this with a third tomato, he noticed scars on her forearm.
Mary? Pat thought. He looked closer, confirmed it was Mary, then saw her clear eyes land on him and brighten with excitement. He feigned a double take and waved at her, hoping she would casually wave back and continue inspecting tomatoes. She began pushing her cart quickly towards the cheese bin where Pat stood, helpless to stop her.
Mary hollered –Hello! Patrick! not yet near him. He’d forgotten about her accent. He opened his arms enthusiastically wide, and while leaning into the hug, was embarrassed by his insincerity.
–Why haven’t you called me?
Mary shamed him with his absence, then segued into the meanwhile of her life: her latest argument with Dana, the issues with her Comp Lit program, a trip she took to somewhere for a conference on Gender Studies, and the gold sandals she brought back from that trip.
–Do you like them?
–Yeah, they’re pretty. Where did you get them again?
–Montreal. Gender Studies conference. I just told you. Dana hates them. Says they make my ankles look big.
–Oh please, your ankles would snap if you tied them too tight.
Mary smiled, turned pink, and then paled again.
–Come out with me on Saturday. There’s a movie screening downtown I really want to go to. The director will be there. Dana won’t see it with me.