She walked down the milk aisle ,pausing in between. One carton fresh milk and one tub of strawberry yoghurt . It was always the same. Usually milk was picked up last, so I knew she would be heading to the cash counter next. She lingers at the ‘This Week’s Grabs’ section and then continues towards the counters.
There are two counters and both of them are free. Row 2 is mine. She is closer to Row 1 and is wheeling her trolley towards it. I hold my breath. Just then a family of four trundle past her and cut across to Row 1. Phew!!! This is destiny, I think. She is meant to come to Row 2. She wheels her trolley over to my counter. I try to catch her eye with a smile which says ‘Hi remember me, I have been billing and packing your groceries for you for the past 1 month. And I would like to get to know you better’. But she is fumbling in her bag for her purse. So I start billing the items, mentally checking for any tell-tale signs. No shaving foam,no condoms and no beer. Phew, no sign of any male in her life. I put the items in 3 covers. Dairy in one and Dry in the others. Our fingertips brush lightly as she hands me her credit card. My heart beat stills for a second.
For a moment every Tuesday, my heart stops. Every Tuesday she comes grocery shopping. Every Tuesday we do our little drill. She stuffing her grocery list back in the bag and fumbling for her credit card and I fumbling with words. This Tuesday , I have decided to talk to her.
She is picking up her grocery bags, stuffing her purse into the Dry cover. Now is the chance.
“Um…where do you — ” , I start.
“Does this mouthwash come 1 for 1?” , a voice enquires. I turn to see an elderly woman waving a mouthwash tube at me. I turn back and look at her. She looks at me and then at Granny, hesitates as if to say something and then leaves.
I sigh and turn to attend to Granny. Why does the Granny even need mouth wash? Do you have to care about oral hygiene a lot when you don’t have many teeth? Now have to wait for a whole week till she comes walking in with her neat grocery list and fills my heart with hope.
I have had an idea. I have scribbled a note which says
Would like to know you better.
The Counter Guy’
On an afterthought, I add ‘Row 2′ because there is pimply Kevin with a wife and 3 kids on Row 1 and I don’t think either he or she will be happy about my little note if there is a confusion. I fold my note and place it on top of the bread and hope for the best. She places the milk carton on the counter and pauses and looks at me. And for a heart splitting second , I imagine she has seen me slipping in the note.
But she looks at me and says, “Oops forgot something. Be back in a minute.”
She comes back with 2 tubs of ice-cream. I bend down to get a new cover. But she is in a hurry. “No,no….just put it in with the bread”. And she drops the ice-cream tubs on top of the bread. I picture the cold ice-cream dampening my little note. By the time she is home, my note will be just a wet crumpled mash of paper and blue ink. Perfect.
Following Tuesday and the one after that :
Its Christmas Rush at the store and she always ends up at Row 1 with Kevin. Darn!!!
The Tuesday after that :
I try placing a heart-shaped box of chocolates along with a fresh note in her grocery bag. Had to be extra quick and sneaky. And I made sure she had no last-minute surprises before bagging the groceries. I watch her leave the store holding her bags. And I begin my wait.
Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Saturday. Sunday. Monday.
I watch her wheeling her trolley around the store. She doesnt look in my direction. Not even once. She’s back at my counter. I cant bear to look at her. My hands feel all sweaty as I bag the stuff. She fumbles for her purse, opens it and says “Oh! I think i forgot my credit card. Can I pay by cash?”
WHAT ???? That’s all she can say ? I nod my head to her question. She hands me a twenty dollar bill and some loose change . Then she picks up her bags smartly and walks out of the store. Out of my Life.
I slump back in my chair dejected. Surely, she would have seen the box of chocolates and the note, I thought. I know a rejection when I see one. I sigh and start to place her dollar bills inside the cash register. That is when I notice something scribbled on the bill. I peer closer.
In her neat little handwriting, it says ‘Turn Over’. I turn the bill over and find her grocery list stuck on to the other side. It reads :
Talk to Cute Guy at Row 2
Hi Cute Guy, guess one of us had to start . You are the one thing on my list I never got around to doing. Thanks for the chocolates.
My no: 97372372329
Author’s Note: Adding an author’s note is a novelty for me. Makes me feel professional and very oh-jus-another-one-of-my-Booker-prize-novels kinda thing :)
3 reasons why I chose to write this:
I wanted to write a love story.
I wanted it to be based in a place/location where most of us pass through on a daily/weekly basis and don’t really give a second thought to.
Thirdly,I am a big fan of to-do lists and grocery lists , so our heroine is a little bit like me.