Anna Luberoff

Linda

Chips, cookies, ground beef. Applesauce, clementines, lettuce, beef. Noodles, beef. Ramen, frozen pizza, boneless chicken breasts.

I wandered the aisles of the supermarket like a zombie, acknowledging my fellow supermarket zombies with a welcoming blank stare. Things flew off the shelf and into my cart without me even noticing. A few extra boxes of noodles here, another package of meat. Lots of meat. Even more meat. My shopping cart filled higher and higher, and my stomach inadvertently rumbled. Being in supermarkets always made me hungry.

I passed the frozen food section, and opened the door to survey the offerings. I groped around to find the frozen waffle package with the latest expiration date, a trick my mom had showed me when I was little, as she had always put the most energy into finding the best deal possible. As I moved to close the door, I caught the reflection of a woman standing behind me, staring. I turned around slowly, trying not to make any sudden moves, in case she was angry that I had taken the waffle package she wanted. But she didn’t say anything. She just looked at me with a half-smile on her face, like she knew something I didn’t know.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hi,” she responded.

She kept staring at me.

“Can I help you with anything?” I asked, trying to escape her piercing stare.

She kept staring, and then broke into a grin. She shook her head, and I started to carefully execute the difficult shopping cart three-point turn in the aisle with care.

“Wait.” Her hand appeared on my shoulder at lightning speed.

“I think I know you. You’re Bart, Bart from down the street! We used to live right next door to each other?”

The sound of her voice snapped me out of my semi-conscious state.

“Sorry?”

“It’s Linda? Remember me? We used to be neighbors, you know, we lived next door to each other on Mount Vernon Street?”

I looked at her again, returning the stare she gave me. I definitely knew her from somewhere. Linda. Which one? I could think of five Lindas off the top of my head, and mentally crossed off the two that had not lived near me on Mount Vernon Street. This left three Lindas. I thought back to my neighborhood on Mount Vernon Street. There was a woman with the son who played the saxophone - not very well, as I recalled, but I was fairly certain that her name was not Linda. There was a woman who had several dogs, whose piercing voice had always woken me up at the ungodly hours of the morning that people always seem to walk their dogs at. Then there was elderly Linda, who always wore a large floppy gardening hat, and once yelled at me for attempting to grow shrubs on her side of the property, but she was too old to be the Linda that faced me now. There was also the Linda who rode the bus to the train station with me every morning, who always sat very still and upright, and professional, and very unfriendly. Why was Linda such a popular name? I looked down at my feet, at a loss for what to say to this Linda that I didn’t know a thing about.

Her shoes gave it all away. Lime green tennis shoes with fluorescent racing stripes on the sides. Those shoes could never belong to anyone except for dog Linda, unless bus Linda had experienced an interesting mental breakdown.

She continued to stare at me throughout this thought process with that irritating knowing look on her face, and a twinkle in her eye.

“Linda! Yeah, um, I remember you. Um… how are your dogs?”

“I don’t have any dogs.”





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