y wife dragged me out of our house the other day to do some grocery shopping. I had been off from school all week and since I’ve not been out of my house for five days she thought it best to air me out.
When we entered the store she knew exactly what to do and where to go. I, on the other hand, wandered helplessly through the store hoping to find some new product to astound me or some free food they were giving out for people like me. Walking around an assortment of red and green canned goods advertising every sort of vegetable known to mankind I glanced over to a woman staring into her partially-filled wagon.
It didn’t seem like she was looking at anything special. Her eyes were fixed on something that must have been in her mind and not in the cart. I then looked at her eyes. There were large black rings demonstrating how the stress of life pushed her face toward the center of her forehead thus forcing extra skin to accumulate under the part of her face that was the windshield of her soul.
She stood there for a few seconds, let out a sigh, took what looked like a small list from her pocket and continued her trek down the labyrinth of tunnels filled with food that could probably feed a small African village for over a year. Then my eyes fell to a little copy of the woman. I assume her daughter was looking up at her mother knowing something was wrong. She had not lived long enough to create the dark circles under her eyes but her brow was furrowed promising to do just that. I now knew it was time to not explore the store but rather to search for stories that came from the eyes of fellow shoppers.
Wandering back toward the meat section that is always at the back of the store I noticed an elderly couple looking through the bargain meats on sale. I wondered how the store decided on what would be bargain and what would be expensive. I thought it might have something to do with the age of the meat and how close it was until it expired. The couple stood close to each other, almost leaning in order to stay standing.
She read the package while he waited for her decision as to whether or not to buy the product. Like the woman and child I previously observed, they looked worried but not for their future. They looked worried about their present they knew was synonymous with their future. I never waited long enough to see her decision.
Wandering through the store and feeling more perplexed than I usually do I noticed a young man and woman wandering up and down the aisle filled with every color of junk food known to mankind. It surprises me how junk-food products never disappear from the shelves. They just get put lower on the shelves or are made into tiny packages and pushed into value packs where the packaging is heavier than the food inside.
Hiding behind a large mountain of beer promising joy and happiness for all I watched how they kidded with each other by having the male throw giant bags of chips into the basket only to be followed by the female take it out and put it back. I heard her admonish her partner they needed real food. He laughed and obeyed. They left the aisle arm in arm with a small box of microwave popcorn in their basket in order to satisfy what they both knew they couldn’t afford.
Feeling like I was Alice glancing through her looking glass I decided to find my wife so I could feel more secure in the knowledge I was not alone. Walking down the bread aisle I came upon a couple that looked like me and my wife. I guessed they were in their fifties and they were silently deciding between wheat, rye, or white. They looked comfortably dressed and their basket was half-filled with what they considered important in order to survive their next week.
What surprised me most about this couple was their silence. Every now and then they would look at each other but no conversation was observed. He stood with her as she seemed to make all the decisions. As they passed I swear the wife gave me a look as to who do I think I am because I violated their space. I just can’t figure out how she knew.
Needing to find my wife because I not only felt alone but also a bit paranoid I worked my way toward the frozen foods section. This is the section of the store that is always the largest and the shiniest. Walking down the aisle that separates the frozen foods from the vegetables I thought I heard something behind me. As I turned I caught a glimpse of my image on the side of a stainless steel freezer filled with every type of frozen pizza known to mankind.
The first thing my eyes did was attach themselves to the eyes of the image in front of me. I noticed dark circles underneath my windows to my soul. I noticed stress marks that ran up and down my face and also noticed a flash of surprise that I looked like something I never thought I would look like.
I found my wife soon afterwards trying to pick the best looking broccoli and stood as close as I could. At first she felt uncomfortable and gave me an odd glance but soon allowed me to stay near her. I said nothing and watched as she did what she knew how to do. My wife dragged me out of our house the other day to do some grocery shopping. Normally this is not a memorable experience.
Sitting in my chair watching a news channel that had little news associated with it sipping a scotch I knew I had to have, all I could do was be hopeful my future won’t be defined by how many rings I had under my eyes.
Looking into the eyes of our future.
By J. G. Fabiano.
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine, USA
e-mail him at: email@example.com
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