I am not exactly ready to talk about the woman who approached me at target last week. me, flustered and sweaty-faced after twenty ridiculous minutes in the dressing room (first time since the before times), two ridiculous sweaters in my cart, neither of which I had any intention of buying. I am not ready to talk about the little hand-written laminated notecard the woman showed me that said something about needing food for her babies. I am not ready to admit that I followed her to the baby food aisle, even though I knew this was a common scam. not ready to talk about how she dropped container after container of baby formula in my cart, nearly one hundred dollars' worth before I finally found my voice and offered to purchase her a gift card instead. I am not ready to talk about how angry she seemed at the thought of a gift card, how much this confused me, how it had me questioning the ethics of gift cards for people in need, wondering if I'd missed something. not ready to talk about how she decided she wanted cash instead, how I obediently followed her to the front of the store to the ATM, how the whole thing put me in a trance-like state, how it felt like I was watching the entire scene unfold from the rafters of target.
I am not exactly ready to talk about how she just disappeared. how I wandered the store afterwards, in a daze, pretending, inexplicably, to talk on my phone. how I stood in the aisle with the light bulbs and called my mother. my mother, who has been dead for nine years now. not ready to discuss how the number is no longer in service, of course, but the recording still plays and right there, in front of the general electric 4-packs of soft whites and LED bulbs and incandescents, I whispered into the phone, mom? mom? are you there?
I am not ready to talk about how, for a second, I thought she might answer.