Mari had a bright orange shirt in her hands at the store. You know that feeling you feel when you see someone you know in the store, and you don’t have time to chat? I glanced left and right, looking for a place to hide. Mari frowned and put the orange shirt back on the rack. She happened to glance up and our eyes met.
A polite smile made the frown disappear. I lifted my hand and waved, hoping she would leave it at that, and we could go our separate ways. Recognition dawned and she started maneuvering her way through the clearance racks, the shopping carts, and around some whiney child with sticky hands whose mom was on the cell phone.
“I suppose you saw me with him.” Mari said.
Mari nodded and rested her hand on a shirt nearby that had an ugly calico pattern. “Yes, he came up that week and we did a lot of talking. Matt was very sorry.” She looked a bit red in the face as she continued. “He was always too busy for me.”
“If he’s too busy for you now, what makes you think that will change?” I could hear S.M. in my head, ‘Stop giving advice; just listen.’ I am so like my mother. A fixer by heart and I attract people with troubles that I want to fix. I frustrate myself. Mari didn’t seem irritated.
“I know. That’s what my Aunt says. Maybe you and I could talk about Bible study sometime? I have questions. Doubts.” Her voice faded away and she was fidgeting with the calico shirt.
Don’t buy it. I wanted to take that ugly shirt and hide it. “Sure.” I couldn’t dig out my pen and paper from my purse fast enough. I wrote down my cell number. “Call me.”
Mari took the number. “Matt is calling me tonight. He lives in the city so it’s not so convenient. I actually moved up here right after we broke off our engagement.”
“You were engaged?” Another tantalizing chapter revealed about Mari.
“I gave back the ring. He proposed at the airport on the way out of town on business. We dated for five years.” Mari’s phone gave off a chirp. She dug it out of her pocket and frowned at the message. “And he wants to come up again this weekend.” She tapped out a message and pocketed the phone again.
I refrained from advice. Instead, I said, “Call me. Let’s talk about those questions, alright?”
Mari nodded and took out the calico shirt. She turned slightly to resume shopping. I couldn’t resist fixing an easier problem.
“Um, don’t buy that one.”
Mari looked amused. “Why?”
“Not your style. I’ll talk to you later.” I hurried away, heading straight to a check out lane. My to-do list wasn’t getting shorter. S.M. would be home from work soon, and I still wanted to get the house clean before I started another work day. My head spun as I thought of more appropriate people to ask about her doubts–people with degrees. I kept thinking, as I counted out the money to the clerk, about Matt.
Character expresses itself in action and choices. Matt dated Mari for five years, and only on the threat of losing her, did he begin to actively pursue Mari. I took my shopping bag and left the store. People don’t change. Mari wants the relationship so badly that she was willing to compromise to make it work, but Matt will probably return to neglecting her again.
I am so glad I am not dating anymore!