We reached the door of the Supermarket at the same time and, in deference to her
gray hair and seeming frailty I stood aside that she might enter ahead of me.
She chose a shopping cart and moved slowly along the cosmetics aisle, the
cart’s wheels squeakily protesting the need for a little oil.
There was something vaguely familiar about her and, as I followed at a short
distance I wondered if, when or where I might have encountered her before. The
face was handsome, in spite of a network of fine lines around the eyes and
mouth, and she carried herself with a lissome grace startlingly at variance with
the threadbare coat, which hung loosely to her cracked, misshapen shoes.
As singer from yesteryear? An actress? A dancer? I watched her and wondered and
then I saw it. The flash of hand to shelf and pocket, the movement so flawless
that for a moment I doubted what I had seen. She looked around unhurriedly,
moved on a few paces, and then there it was again, the smooth quick flow of hand
to shelf to pocket.
I discreetly followed her as she continued her way around the Supermarket,
watching as her hand moved from shelf to pocket down each aisle. Something was
still strangely familiar about this woman. Her movements seemed all too familiar
to me. It was as if I was experiencing déjà vu. The whole scene felt like a
repeat of something that had already happened to me. Then it hit me. This
intriguing, middle-aged woman was no singer or dancer or anyone famous. She was
The woman who had abandoned me 15 years ago was walking right in front of me.
Flashbacks of my mother pushing me in the grocery cart while she walked through
the aisles stealing our groceries raced through my mind. I could never forget
that look of fear on her face after she would place sticks of butter and eggs in
her pockets. It was really the only memory I had of her since she disappeared
from my life at the age of five.
But, here she was now. It seemed like the perfect opportunity for mother and son
to become reunited again; or was it? Did I really want to talk to the woman who
vanished and never tried to contact me; especially since she was still doing the
same things she was when she had me? Was I really missing anything since she
left my life? Did I really need her in my life right now? No. I had a beautiful
mother and father at home who truly loved me and provided me with anything I
needed. She apparently had wanted nothing to do with me so why should I try to
reconnect with her now? Realizing this, I politely said excuse me and pushed my
cart right past her, without even again looking in her direction.
©Teniece Rael Thurston
© 2001 Howard University.
(First Published in limited print edition, An Anthology of Verse and Prose, by the Composition for Honours Class, Howard University, Spring 2001. Professor E.R. Braithwaite)
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