Wednesday, August 17, 2011
120/365 -- Playlist Story -- inspired by "Se Fue" by Bebe
Gabriella stood in the entrance of the grocery store. The late afternoon sun warmed her back while cold air rushed across her face. A young man pushed past her from behind, then glanced back at her with narrow eyes and shucked hair out of his face. Gabriella moved forward and the door closed behind her. She reached for a plastic basket but retracted her hand and held it to her lips.
She walked slowly past the check-out lanes filled with middle-aged women and their laden carts, and old men with their half-full baskets. An infant screamed from the arms of a younger woman as she pulled a tabloid magazine from his grip. The check-out clerks looked robotic--right arms grabbed items and pulled them one-by-one across the scanner. The belt jerked forward. Wallets and purses were opened. Money was exchanged. Gabriella looked at the bills from a distance.
After the last check-out stand began the produce section. There was a refrigerator case with tofu and pre-made smoothies. Gabriella passed it without looking. Next were the bags of pre-washed salads. She picked up a bag of baby spinach and squeezed it gently. While she held the bag she noted the price on the shelf. She replaced the bag. She looked at the cold dressings. There were six flavors in glass bottles. She turned an interior corner and walked past whole cucumbers, carrots in three colors, beets, loose greens, onions, and potatoes. She picked up a bunch of celery and sniffed in its freshness. The sprayer system came on. She held her hand under the gentle caress of water. The tips of her fingers became cold. She held them to her cheek, then wiped away the wetness with the back of her hand. She turned away.
There were apples in five varieties. She picked up one of each type in turn, looked at the label and noted the country of origin: New Zealand, USA, Chile, USA, New Zealand. She rubbed a finger against the wax on a Fuji. She picked up a lemon and breathed in it's fragrance before replacing it exactly in the same spot as before. There were green key limes in green net bags. She touched the plastic netting and poked her pinky finger through one of the holes, widening it.
She came to the grapes, purple and green and dusty. She picked up a bunch and weighed it on a scale with several layers of dried stains. Two pounds, almost exactly. She replaced the bunch. At the edge of the stand was a lone grape, purple and seedless. She picked it up. The stem hole was slightly squashed and brown. She wrapped her fingers around it, and it was hidden in her palm. She looked up and around. No customers noticed her. The aproned produce manager stood with a cart by the vegetables. He was cutting green stems off heads of cauliflower and arranging them in their stand.
Gabriella looked down at the floor and at the black mat with hexagonal holes that covered it. There were three smashed grapes stuck in the mat. She put her foot over them and they were hidden. She walked back towards the check-out stands at an even pace, passed a magazine rack, then left the store through the exit door. She walked across the hot parking lot and at the end of it she opened her hand. The grape was still cold. She popped it in her mouth, her first food of the day. She started to cry.