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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #1837517
A woman's trip to the grocery changes the course of her life
It is so cold outside and my threadbare sweater barely keeps the chill out. Tommy promises we will go south right after this next job. I’m freezing, I’m hungry and I’m full of regret. The waitress pulls out her pen and juts out her hip. I order the BLT and Tommy orders chicken soup. Ever since that faithful trip to the store, I have been unable to smell it, much less eat chicken soup, without nausea and tears.

It was a Saturday, a year ago this February. My husband and I were not getting along well. The fiery passion we shared in Paris had now been replaced with resentment. We annoyed each other. Not just with words but with our mere being. We had been fighting for days and I was starting to think this marriage thing was much too difficult and not really worth it. That morning I screamed at him for 1/2 hour about the toothpaste splattered on the bathroom mirror. What type of imbecile was incapable of keeping his mouth closed when brushing his teeth? At the very least, it would only take a few seconds to clean it. That argument was followed by another argument. He was livid that I kept blurting out the crossword puzzle answers. “Why can’t you just give me a chance to think about it?” he moaned. I knew it annoyed him but I could not help myself. Ever since I lost my job and he began supporting me completely, answering crossword puzzles was my only intellectual win. He was getting on my last nerve.

I should have known that couples fight. I should have seen how insignificant these arguments were.

We decided to have a light dinner of soup, bread and cheeses. He had to have chicken noodle soup. We had this delicious recipe for homemade kluski noodles and basil infused chicken soup. Maybe his insistence on this particular recipe was his subtle attempt at making up. If I wasn’t so self centered and pig headed I may have remembered the last time we made this recipe and the snow angels we made in the park during our after dinner walk.

Rummaging through the cabinets I came up short. No basil, no onions, no bread. I wanted to make something else; we had lentils, rice and tomatoes. It was just another thorn to go to the store. He insisted it be chicken soup. I threw on my coat and literally marched out the door, attitude flying higher than my scarf. Throughout the drive I allowed myself to rant. I told myself I should just leave, let him make his own soup. I could run to the tropics and live with a man who respects me and doesn’t argue. Let my husband live alone in a toothpaste crusted bathroom with half done crossword puzzles littering the floors. The more I drove, the more I fueled my anger and the more detailed my fantasy became.

When I entered the automatic doors of our neighborhood grocery store, I barely noticed the slender, anxious looking man in a brown leather jacket. He looked at me and winked. I smiled blushing and slowly made my way to the produce section looking back to see if he was still there. The basil, onions and bread were where they always are and it didn’t take long for me to finish my shopping.

I checked out in the under 10 aisle and proceeded to return my wallet to purse. Just as I was carrying my bags from the checkout, I heard the screams. That brown leather jacket was racing toward me, a bag in one hand and a gun in the other. The store security guard pulled his gun and order the man to stop. The man grabbed me around the neck, pointed the gun to my head and whispered, “Don’t be afraid. My name is Tommy and if you do as I say, you won’t get hurt”. To shocked to be scared, I nodded agreement.

It happened so fast. I cannot even remember all the details. Tommy told the security guard to drop the gun. He instructed me to go get it and point it at the guard. I had never held a gun and was now terrified. I didn’t mean to fire it and I didn’t mean to hurt the guard. The gun slid from my hands. Tommy grabbed me by the arm and we ran. I wasn’t thinking. I got into the car with him.

It took several days to realize what I had done. Tommy was sweet, gentle and not at all what you would expect from a burglar. I told myself this fantasy was beginning. I didn’t think about the man I shot. As for my husband, he would see that I deserved respect and I certainly didn’t have to put up with him any longer. This may not have been what I was thinking when dreaming about leaving, but it was an adventure.

The past few months have been difficult. The fantasy has left and I am alone with my mistakes. Tommy is not a prince on a white horse. He is a man just like my husband, with his dark side and his annoying habits. I don’t worry about gourmet recipes now, I worry about how to pay for a dinner and eat it without suspicion. I miss my husband and I miss our life together. The arguments were so silly and I want to go back.

Tommy has finished his soup. I push away the memory and hold down my lunch until the next time he craves chicken soup. He pays the waitress and we are ready to leave. I am always ready to leave.
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