dishevelled mom standing in the fruit aisle of a grocery store

Her childlessness was apparent.

It might have been the disdainful glance at my kids, daycare grime ringing there nostrils, indoor voices echoing shrill up amongst the painted, metal rafters.

Or it could have been her spotless houndstooth wool suit.  Houndstooth being one of those obvious materials with magnetizing properties known to attract crumbs, peanut butter grease and boogers.  The staples of any mother of small children.  

And while held mesmerized by its hypnotic qualities I unconsciously tugged on my own work shirt, which could loosely be considered professional if not for the remnants of crumbs, peanut butter grease and boogers. Mentally calculating the care of wool in terms of hand washing hours and trips to the dry cleaners.  Do dry cleaners even have Parents With Children Parking?

But mostly I saw her as without children for the single pomegranate she placed inside her small reusable grocery bag.  Pomegranates are too much work for too little gain, such a finicky fruit has no place during a lunch time rush when toast crusts are flying fast and furious.  They would only be mocked by the bananas for their frivolity.  And anyways after only just getting one child to begrudgingly admit that seeds are not to be eaten, pomegranates would only seem contradictory.  

Although she was too far away to carry any scent to my nose, I imagined she smelled of free time and clean sheets.

And as she sauntered off towards the artichokes, in perilously high heels and toned calves, I sighed and murmured, "She's pretty," quietly to myself.

"Yeah," came a whisper from across the bananas, as she diligently bagged Royal Galas and popped a Mum Mum into a waiting mouth.

Our eyes met, for a moment, in recognition and we parted, wheeling our carts towards separate aisles.  Her towards a stacked end display of diapers on sale and me to retrieve a box of animal crackers.

And as I turned down that aisle.  

The houndstooth wool suit?  

Wasn't there.

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