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The wintery cold air blew from the North giving me a sneeze. I grabbed my coat as I shivered from the freezing weather. I looked up at the long line that seemed endless as more customers approached. Today was a pretty busy day. Lots of customers are in line and the conversations I heard grew gradually. It must be because a traditional holiday is near, sending tons of visitors and tourists crowded all over the town to pay a visit for their loved ones. Although today was filled with exhaustion from the unusual busy work, the customers at the neighborhood grocery were mostly nice and kind. It was nice to have someone to talk to on a day like this. Especially, the old women with the hair like the color of shredded paper and ageless worn cloth which you can find across 71st Ave. Oh, and also that young twelve-year-old girl named Amy who I just remembered. I had the longest conversation with Amy, whose hair was like fire red, her cloth was new and fancy made from her own mother’s talented little hands, whose shoes were as blue as the cold night sky, and her eyes were like the never-ending ocean over the horizon. Her smile was warmer than sunshine. Amy always cheered me up. It’s her personality that naturally does the job.
Today felt as fast as the white feathery bird that just flew by. I checked my watch again hoping I can make it home early today but my hope faded away when my watch read 6 o’clock. My wife, Annie, and my three kids, Amy, Jack, and Donald, must all be home right now eating the delicious supper Annie had planned to make this morning. I can already smell the warm freshly-baked bread from the oven and taste the warm juicy and sweet tomato soup and I felt my mouth watered just thinking about it. My stomach protested for food constantly as I waited patiently for the next customer in the line.
Darkness grew quickly in just a few minutes. The lights were surprisingly still on at the grocery store. The line gradually got shorter as people left because of the time. The silence grew quickly. I heard small footsteps coming from the distance as another customer approached. It was Mary Maloney. I knew Mary ever since she moved to town. She found her perfect life here with her husband, Patrick, a detective at the police station. Mary was always friendly and kind to everyone. She had a warm heart and she always looked stunningly beautiful with her blue dress even though she’s right now 6 months pregnant. It was weird seeing her coming here this late. Rarely anyone come at this time to get groceries. Most families are enjoying supper. I was rather confused than curious seeing her here. But what immediately grabbed my attention was the fact that Patrick was not with Mary. I’ve never seen Mary without Patrick by her side unless if it’s for work I thought. I turned over and looked at Mary with a welcoming smile as she approached.
"Hello, Sam," she said brightly as she smiled at me unusually. I felt goosebumps looking at Mary’s expression. A breeze of sudden warm air blew over my shoulder. The weather suddenly felt warm around me. My heart jumped rapidly.
I can even hear my heart jump “plop-plop plop-plop” every second. She stepped closer to the counter as she hid her hands behind her back like she’s hiding something.
"Good evening, Mrs. Maloney. How are you?" I responded nervously. One million thoughts popped up in my mind as I responded.
"I want some potatoes, please, Sam. Yes, and perhaps a can of beans, too. Patrick's decided he's tired and he doesn't want to eat out tonight," she told me. "We usually go out on Thursdays, you know, and now I don't have any vegetables in the house."
The thought of Patrick always being with Mary repeated itself. He’s that overprotective kind of person. Maybe he’s too tired like what Mary just said. Wait no, that can’t be the case. Even if he’s tired, he would still be here. Plus, Mary and Patrick always go out and eat on Thursdays. The thought gave me a sudden chill.
I wanted to question Mary terribly. But my thoughts were interrupted by the smile on Mary’s face faded into a frown all of a sudden as I stared at her confusingly. Oh no. Why did I stare? I just awkwardly embarrassed myself in front of Mary. Maybe she doesn’t want to be questioned I thought. I’ll just question her something else then.
"Then how about some meat, Mrs. Maloney?" I asked.
"No, I've got meat, thanks, I've got a nice leg of lamb, from the freezer."
"Do you want these potatoes, Mrs. Maloney?
"Oh, yes, they'll be fine. Two pounds, please."
What’s the rush about? Did something happen? Questions filled my mind non-stop. I always had long conversations with Mary every time she came. I remembered back in the old days when she came to the neighborhood grocery for the first time and asked where the grocery was. It was silly but yet funny. We quickly became friends after that. Just yesterday I was talking to her about what my sweet little girl Amy did for Annie. But today, she seemed like another person. Her feet started tapping faster than lightning as if she’s trying to get something off her mind while she waited for me to respond. I’ve never seen Mary act like this before. A bad feeling slowly creeped down my stomach.
"Anything else?" I asked awkwardly as I turned my head to one side, looking at her. "How about dessert? What are you going to give him for dessert? How about a nice piece of cake? I know he likes cake."
"Perfect," she said in a deep tone, "he loves it."
Her tone went from sweet and innocent to scary and horrifying the second she responded. Something must have gone wrong between Patrick and Mary. This wasn’t like the Mary I know of.
After she paid and bought everything, she gave me her brightest smile and said, "Thank you, Sam. Good night."
At this moment, my brain wouldn’t stop questioning myself as Mary walked away quickly. She was nice and usual for a short time between our unusual conversation. But her actions and expression that kept changing gave it away. It gave me confusion. Her tone gave it away too. The conversation felt like as if a rope is trying to drag Mary away forcefully. Did something happen to Patrick? I wonder why Mary rushed to get the grocery items. More questions came to my mind after one and another. Maybe Patrick is sick? Can it be that bad? I’ve never seen the man sick before though. Plus, Mary won’t leave Patrick until he’s well. Rather than being with Patrick, she decided to step aside today without him. I’m pretty sure an argument occurred between these two. I can tell Mary buried her true feelings inside of her hoping I won’t figure anything went wrong. Annie always did that when she feels depressed. I sure hope Patrick and Mary fix their argument. I hope Patrick is ok too.