3WW "She's Working The Express Lane"

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are cleanse, knead and melt.

She’s Working the Express Lane

He grips the black plastic basket, even though it’s already on the rubber conveyor belt in the 15 Items Or Less lane complete with a couple of those gray rubber bars to mark where your purchases begin and end; the stranglehold he keeps on the folding plastic handles is a defense in case someone behind him in line counts up his items and tattles. In that case, he can just bolt, make a small apology and queue up in a regular line with some light damage control.

He’s way over the 15 Items Or Less suggestion. There’s a gallon of 2 percent milk, a loaf of artisan bread, the bacon-flavored dog treats, six apples (he’s never sure where produce fits, is a bag one item, or is each apple an item?), grape tomatoes (two packages for $3.99), butter lettuce, bananas, olive oil, a half-pound of the honey-glazed deli ham (on sale for $4.99 a pound), a box of maple-flavored granola and the energy bars.

He’s totally sweating the energy bars; three for $1.98, there were four flavors to choose from. He picked up 12.

That takes him way over 15 Items Or Less quota and he shifts his gaze, tries not to look suspicious.

She’s got her bowtie cocked suggestively, like she always does, and a lock of golden-brown hair hangs over her right eye, which she is forever trying to tuck behind her ear. Her white shirt is crisp as always, and he blushes as he traces the delicate lacy bra underneath. The heavy brush of eyeliner, he thinks, makes her blue eyes even more brilliant.

She meets his gaze and smiles. He melts, a little.

She greets him by name, although he wishes she’s drop the Mr. Debow and just call him Mike, as he calls her Lana, which is what the red plastic nametag says on her black apron.

She’s good at small talk, asks if he’s tried the energy bars he’s loaded up on; he fumbles and says something stupid about being on sale and something about being a good thing he can keep in his desk drawer at work.

Money exchanged, she informs him that he’s saved $4.67 on this trip and did he need help out?

“I’ve got it, Lana, thanks just the same” and kneads the white plastic handles of the grocery sacks for a better grip and moves toward the exit.

“Well, you have a great day, you hear,” she says, already beginning to ring up the next customer.

And he’s buoyed by this and remembers that he’s totally forgotten the powdered cleanser, the one item the wife reminded him to pick up – by text and voicemail – on his way home.

And he’s already practicing the conversation he'd like to have with her, in the 15 Items Or Less line, in just a few minutes.


jaerose said...

Supermarkets..it's where all the real issues in life are played out isn't it..the attention to detail..the sweat..seeing through the cotton..I hope he is just a harmless (and optimistic) watcher...never can be entirely sure..Jae

Monica Manning said...

I'm torn between feeling sorry for him or lecturing him to go home to his wife. I like these pieces; when you focus on a five- or ten-minute moment in time. So much happens and we're left contemplating the butterfly effect.

VL Sheridan said...

Oh the pain of unrequited love! I hope this is nothing more than a harmless crush. Maybe he should pick up something special for his wife in addition to the cleanser.

Life without Clots said...

Those 'one-sided' affairs are always interesting...we do deceive ourselves with fantasy.

Christine said...

We do like to flirt on the edge, and then return to our normal hidden lives. Human nature I suppose.

Anonymous said...

I think we all have one-sided crushes while in relationships. It doesn't have to mean that he's a bad guy, as long as he doesn't act on it. No going all American Beauty on her.

I could definitely feel the tension! A very real piece of fiction here :)

Peter Dudley said...

Although this doesn't have as strong a voice and direct writing as many of your pieces, it definitely is breathless and spot-on. Great description of the rush of brushing up against that line that shouldn't be crossed, the one that separates fantasy from ruination.

earlybird said...

I was wondering why he was in such a state to be at the 15 items or less till (I often do it when I'm in a rush and totally identify with how he felt!) so it was a good touch to know it was for the pretty cashier! Well written.

Fear Not the Darkness but What lies Within said...

Sheilagh Lee said:Oh dear the naughty man flirting with the saleslady.Well written story I truly enjoyed it.

Dee Martin said...

The Mrs. might start wondering why he is so quick to volunteer to shop for her if he keeps this up :)

Donna Hole said...

So much sweetness and guilt is a tantalizing combo. I liked all the emotional conflicts in this.