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I stood in the line at the market. After placing my items on the revolving black thing, I stood and waited for it to move my items, some dish soap and a salad, closer to the scanner. I stood there for what seemed like forever, even though I was the next in line and the guy before me had only two items, too.

Shadow of Clouds
Shadow of Clouds
Guosong Liu

I stared at the magazines, the ones that talk about celebrities and how their faces have moved in with their asses and why the boyfriend dumped his girlfriend for being too kinky. I saw the pictures of pretty gone ugly proclaimed in bold headlines--"Starlet Inhales Implants After Aliens Botch Surgery"--spouting their real life daily problems like they're the only ones. I stared but didn't see.

My eyes saw me standing in a line oblivious to everyone, ignoring everything, escaping myself. They witnessed my indifference to the lack of soap and the need to get out of the house, maybe it was hunger.

My vision moved inward, losing sight of the bald man in front of me in blue khakis and a white button-down shirt, pocketing his pack of gum and smokes that constituted his lunch. I didn't see the brightly colored balloons promising a Happy Birthday Pops or the old ladies huddled by the scale, bitching about the price of cherries. "They're $7.00 per pound!" "Oh my, that's ridiculous," a wrinkled hand feigned shock.

Instead I noticed his side of the bed now forever cold and his untouched clothes hanging listlessly in his closet. His spotless sink in the bathroom dry, contrary to all desires.

My ears went deaf to the noise of the cash register ringing up trivial sales, to the PA system calling for help, "Clean up in aisle 156," or "Lost child, please report to customer service," and I didn't hear the old man who bags the groceries say hello or the thunder sending innocent people scurrying through the sliding glass doors.

I only heard my husband's laughter when I asked him to watch a sappy movie for the second time. "Oh not again, is this the third time this week?" His loud snore so many nights waking us both still droned and his squirrelly footsteps as he snuck downstairs for chocolate when he thought me sleeping echoed in my ears.

The scent of the fresh flowers and pungent fruit eluded me. I carelessly passed the fresh fish counter without noticing the telltale odor of yesterday's flounder.

But his smell lingers heavenly in my nostrils as I lose myself in his sweater so I can inhale him and not forget.

The air conditioning blasting through its vents blew right through my shadow and the immediacy of the young boy reaching for the plastic, shining toy went unnoticed. I wasn't bumped by the wayward cart that escaped its owner and I couldn't feel the soft squishiness of overripe melons.

I could only feel relief and guilt, guilt for the relief, in every shelf, at every turn, hiding behind the ketchup and in the deli case, too embarrassed to be seen. Guilt searching for relief, lost in the health aid aisle, both plastered all over me in full frontal view of the Publix's shoppers. There was only relief and guilt that hounded me after his death. With no more hospital, I could get on with life, life without Dave.

Like a ghost above, I saw me thinking my thoughts and feeling my feelings yet outside myself. I wasn't there! If you asked me, "Did you go to the market today?" I'd be lying if I said yes, because I don't remember handing the five dollars over to the tattooed cashier and can't recall him smiling as he corrected my incorrect change, giving back the nickel I mistook for a quarter because I couldn't see past the tears.

Truly I wasn't in the supermarket today. Inside myself, like a fly floating in the wind, I tried to grasp my thoughts and shelve unwanted feelings.

"Attention shoppers, we have a special today on cloaked guilt and remorseful relief. We have an abundant supply so there's no purchase limit, get all you want."

I didn't hear about that sale because I wasn't in the market today.

BIO: I'm the mother of three quasi-adult children and now have time for an old love. I can be reached at

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