by Briana Garelli
Aisle 5: Canned Goods
I see her as I turn into the aisle to get peas and corn, minding my own business, and there she is, the curves of her tanned, lean body hugged inside white linen pants. Her hair is grey with traces of faded brown and it falls into waves down her shoulders. As she rises her cleavage is exposed, accentuated by a small silver chain dangling from her neck and falling into the warm space between her breasts. Her hips are round and full and I wish I could hold on to them.
Aisle 7: Juices
I pretend I’m getting tomato juice because it’s convenient to stand there. She stops by the section of organic lemonades and gourmet fruit nectars in fancy glass containers. Her blouse has a low, open cut in the back, revealing her bare, freckled skin. I imagine running my fingers from the base of her neck to the end of her spine, caressing the outline of her bones, and her nails digging into me, her back arching and her bottom rubbing against me, and I feel pressure, a wild, maddening pressure.
Aisle 10: Dairy
She prefers dairy-free yogurt and almond milk over cow’s. I grab a dozen eggs and inch closer towards her, looking for a carton of 2% with an acceptable expiry date. She meditates over her options; original, unsweetened, vanilla. She wears her years well, with soft wrinkles framing her face, the subtle scent of aged magnolias seeped into her sun-kissed skin. I think briefly of being a child, bored at school and wrinkling a sheet of paper into my fist, contracting and expanding it a few times until it turned into a soft, supple tissue, with tiny crevices all over like the close-up of a human palm. The flesh inside her thighs must feel like that, and smell too of aged magnolias and be of a darker shade than the rest of her tan. I take too long choosing milk cartons, and she gives me this sideways look. I wonder now if she’s also thinking about fucking me.
Aisle 11: Meat
She skips this section, leaving me disappointed. The air blowing off from the freezers is colder here and she’s wearing a thin blouse and nothing underneath, and if she lingered in this coolness maybe her skin would erupt in gooseflesh and I’d be able to see the shape of her breasts and her hardened nipples. But she walks too quickly to the fresh produce section, and it’s not until she’s picking apples and I’m choosing onions when I remember I forgot to get tonight’s steak but now it’s too late, and I can bear the thought of not having steak for dinner but I can’t bear to not have her within my sight.
We run awkwardly into each other, our shopping carts colliding. I was trying to get her to look at me, wanted to be smooth about it, courteously let her take my place in line so I could study her back a little longer, keep thinking of all these wonderful things. But now she looks at me and it’s not curiosity reflected in her hazel eyes but a steely indifference, and to my horror, disdain.
“Go ahead,” she says, her eyebrows raised. Other women don’t do this, but other women are younger, and they think I’m a friend. She grips the metal handle of her cart with both hands until her knuckles turn white. I try to smile but she doesn’t smile back and my smile comes out more like a grimace. Her gaze burns into my back. I squirm inside, not from pleasure.
I watch her go and I don’t follow. I worry, only briefly, if this is all women think of me; if their sharpness can cut through the rot, smell the sickness within.
“You sick fuck,” my sister told me once, after I watched her in the shower.
I feel uncomfortable.
Briana Garelli is an independent visual designer and consultant from Mexico based in Vancouver, Canada. She is a graduate of Emily Carr University, where she studied communication design. She is currently working on her debut novel, “Pale Reverie.” She lives with her husband. You can find her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/thirdaura