Comparison Shopping, by Lori Cramer
I’m outside the market, loading the last bag of groceries into my trunk, when I spot Christopher’s Mini pulling into a parking space. Christopher and I broke up more than a year ago, yet I still think about him every day—even though I heard he got married last month. I crane my neck to catch a glimpse of his face, but when the car door opens a woman emerges.
Petite. Dark-haired. Pretty.
Is this her, the woman who’s replaced me?
Needing to know more, I tug my baseball cap down over my eyebrows and follow her.
Once inside the market, she zips through the aisles, filling a basket with nutritious items like kale, hummus, and quinoa. Why would she think that Christopher, a self-proclaimed junk-food junkie, would be interested in any of that?
I continue trailing her to the pasta section, where she zooms right past Martin’s Meat Lover’s Marinara, Christopher’s favorite sauce, and instead selects a delicate jar of pesto. This woman doesn’t know Christopher at all! He won’t eat that.
She turns. “Are you talking to me?”
Oh no! I didn’t mean to say that out loud. Panicked, I look around. We’re the only ones in the aisle. I have to say something. “It’s just…he’s more of a burger-and-fries kind of guy.”
Avoiding her gaze, I glance down at her hands—and the huge diamond on her finger. Christopher can’t afford that! He’ll be paying it off for the next ten years. Assuming he doesn’t starve first.
“Do we know each other?” she asks.
Shaking my head, I gesture at her basket. “Your, uh, husband likes those kinds of foods?”
“Not yet,” she admits. “I’m working on helping him improve his eating habits.”
Christopher doesn’t need her help! He’s a grown man, more than capable of choosing his own sustenance. Grabbing a jar of Martin’s sauce, I hold it out to her. “You should get this.”
“That?” She raises an eyebrow. “Do you work for the company or something?”
“No, but maybe if you bring him this, along with what you want him to eat…”
“He’ll be more inclined to give the healthier foods a try?”
No way! But at least he’ll get to eat one thing he enjoys.
She takes the jar from me. Studying the label, she wrinkles her nose. “I don’t know if he’ll like it.”
“He will. Trust me.”
Our eyes meet. She opens her mouth, as if she’s about to say something, but no words come out. Instead, she rearranges the items in her basket and slips the sauce in beside the pesto.
“Guess it’s worth a try.” She flashes a polite smile, then hurries away.
As she disappears around the corner, I grab another jar of sauce and clutch it to my heart.
Lori Cramer’s short prose has appeared in Ellipsis Zine, Fictive Dream, Flash: The International Short-ShortStory Magazine, Sledgehammer,Splonk, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for Best Microfiction. Links to her writing can be found at https://loricramerfiction.wordpress.com