11. #A_Resourceful_Woman ...

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11. #A_Resourceful_Woman ...


Jeff Sharlet








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11. #A_Resourceful_Woman // Mary's brand is Sunbeam. That’s what she’s looking for. A big one, big enough for her frozen lasagna. “They’re all big enough for lasagna,” I say. “No,” she says. The microwave she’s looking for must be just so. White. “Here’s a white one,” I say. No. It must have a clock, too. “They all have clocks, Mary.” No. Not like the clock she’s looking for. And big buttons, too. “I know what I want,” she says. She does. I can’t tell her otherwise. “This one’s $55,” I say. “I’ll spot you $5 if you want it.” “No,” she says. “You can give me $5 if you want, but I’m not taking that microwave.” She flags a stock clerk. “Sunbeam,” she says. He smiles. She frowns. She doesn’t mean him. Not a very bright man, thinks Mary. “S-S-S,” she says. The first time I’ve heard her stutter in hours. “SUNBEAM,” she says.The one that belongs to her. The one she's thinking of. "You’re supposed to have everything,” she says. “I don’t think we have a Sunbeam,” says the clerk, and he pauses, and takes in the fullness of Mary Mazur. The plant in her cart. The plant’s bandages. The slick shine of her hair. Her foot. The wounds. The smell. It’s rich, the smell. As complicated as her condition. Sweat and shit and dust and, yes, lasagna. Frozen food thawed at room temperature over days, and what remains in the ring of cans in which Mary sits in darkness, and flies, sometimes, and maggots if she’s too tired to clean. It’s always hot in her room, must be over 80, but Mary smells cold, too. What does cold smell like? Like Mary Mazur. The clerk takes a big breath—that’s what I did, too, the first time, it’s what we do when we encounter a human being around whom the veil of the world is very thin—and he does not turn away. He does not turn away. He does not smile. Maybe he’s not so dumb after all. “I get it,” he says. “You gotta have your Sunbeam.” He doesn’t offer to find it for her. He can’t. They don’t have it. He’s not selling. It isn’t his store. He just works here. She just shops here. We are just three bodies amidst the things, and there is nothing we can do now about the choices that aren’t offered. // Continued. #truestories





Jeff Sharlet, “11. #A_Resourceful_Woman ...,” The InstaEssay Archive, accessed August 5, 2020, http://instaessayarchive.org/items/show/2682.