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"Something Special from the Minimart" by Rita Plush

I envied her. I wanted to be her. I wanted her house, her clothes and her car. I had a house, clothes and a car but hers were better. Even her name was better. Yolanda. The long sound of exotic promise. My name? A blah Pam. Like a cooking spray, over and done with so your eggs don’t stick.

I admired my new neighbor from afar but not in silence. “Isn’t she beautiful?” I said to my husband.

“Who?” He drove right past her on the street.

“Yolanda!” Pencil skirt and little booties, Cleopatra eyes, for the minimart yet! The fruit man dropped his peaches when she swanned in. Me in sweats—still two sizes away from my pre-partum jeans—breastmilk leaking through my nursing bra into my T-shirt, in such a funk when I drove home, I scarfed down a full sleeve of Mallomars before I even got my groceries out of the car.

“Oh her,” Burt said, eyes on the road. “Not my type. You’re fine for me.”

Fine for you! What does that mean?! And stop patting my high like I’m some kind of puppy.”

“You used to like it when I patted your thigh. Used to like it a lot.” A quick side-eye.

Not that again. I know sweetie. But I’m still sore there. Sore and tired, taking care of the baby, and I don’t which end is up.”

“Maybe it’s that partim thing?”

“What partim thing?

“You know! When you get bummed out after you have a baby. That article you gave me to read.”

“You mean postpartum depression?”

“Yeah, that’s it. Get a sitter a few days a week. Call in the groceries and have them sent over.” I wouldn’t have to run into Yolanda then, and eat my heart out.“Give yourself some me time. Isn’t that what women want now, me time.”

“Well, yes,” I said. Burt was trying, even though he sounded more condescending than enlightened. “Time for me. That would be nice.”

He gave me a smile with a hug in it. I leaned my head on his shoulder. But I still wasn’t ready to get between the sheets.

My me time was The Bold and the Beautiful—didn’t I wish I was bold and beautiful—and a snack pack of Fritos. The baby was down or a nap. She’d be stirring any minute. I could feel the milk coming in when the doorbell rang. Must be the groceries, I thought.

“Hi,” he said. White teeth sparkled in the mess that was my kitchen. And aren’t you a cutie! Slim-hipped, broad-shouldered, the sun-bleached hairs on his arms sent out a heat that shot right through me. I’m ready now, you Hunka Hunka Burning Love. I was leaking in a place I couldn’t cover with my hand.

“Where would you like this?”

Right where the itch is, darling. “Just put them over there.” I tried to steady my hand as I motioned to a clear spot on the counter. His fingers, long and slender, slid down the sides of the paper bags. Engaging, easy with himself, he said. “I can unpack it for you. You’re my last delivery. I have the time.” He looked at me expectantly.

“That would be nice,” I said. I’d give him a nice tip. Maybe he’d have a tip for me. Control yourself, woman.

He drew out the diaper ointment from a bag. “Just have a baby?”

“Yes,” I said, when I noticed my Motherlove Nipple Cream in his hand. “I’ll take that.” I snatched the jar, gave a guilty smile. Like he doesn’t know what a woman’s nipple is, this gorgeous hottie in jeans so snug.

“I’m Mark,” he said. “My sister just had a baby too. She loves being a mom, but she’s always tired.”

I’m not tired, you beautiful boy. I’m rarin’ to go! “Pam. Nice to know you.”

“Pam,” he said, his mouth a smile when he said my name.

I took care of the baby, put her back down to sleep, then I called Burt.

“When are you coming home to mama, you sexy devil, you?” I crooned.

“Pam? You sure this is Pam?”

“I am Pam. Pam, I am. And I’m gonna give you a good bam-bam,” I sang, soaping myself in the shower. I shaved my underarms and legs—needed a machete it had been so long, but I got the job done.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Burt said when we were in bed.

I took him in my hand, whispered in his ear. He almost levitated. “Jesus effing Christ. What the hell’s come over you?”

“Beats me… but I’ve been thinking about this all afternoon.” I moved into him.

He nuzzled my neck.

Spent and sleepy-headed, “Welcome back, sweetheart,” he said. Maybe you just needed some of that me time.”

“I think you’re right,” I said. Just a little me time.

That new lady down the block…?” he said. “The one you think is such a knockout…”

“Yolanda? I never said she was a knockout.” I shook myself free. “Why are you bringing her up now? Were you thinking about Yolanda while we were having sex?”

“No!!” he said, a little too strenuously. “I just wanted you to know I don’t think she’s anything. Those made-up eyes and tight clothes.” So he has noticed. “She’s a phony. You’re the real deal.” He tried to draw me back to him but I wouldn’t have it. I swung my legs of the bed and turned to my beside table.

“What’s the matter,” he said.

In a snit, Pam you am? And who was on your mind when you were working your little cooch before, hmmm…? Good for the goose, good for the gander. I sat there a minute, then turned back to him.

“Just jotting some things down so I don’t forget. Is there anything special you’d like from the minimart tomorrow?”

Rita Plush is the author of the novels Lily Steps Out and Feminine Products, and the short story collection, Alterations. She is the book reviewer for Fire Island News and teaches memoir at Queensborough Community College, Continuing Ed, Queens, New York and the Fire Island School. Her stories and essays have been published in The Alaska Quarterly Review, MacGuffin, The Iconoclast, Art Times, The Sun, The Jewish Writing Project, Down in the Dirt, Potato Soup Journal, Flash Fiction Magazine, Backchannels, LochRaven, and Chicken Soup for the Soul.

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