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Walking along the cluttered aisle, a frown made its way to my lips. I clutched the shopping cart a little tighter, glancing at the shelves of toddler toys, and back down to my empty cart. I decided to take a detour to the adult clothes, having to walk through the baby section.
Looking at a particularly peculiar toy, I eyed it curiously while hurrying along. Being here brought back memories I would rather forget, and the thought of it was beginning to get me antsy.
The chaotic mess in the aisle didn't deter me one bit and vaguely I heard a guy yell, "Hey, watch out," before I came to a startling halt. My eyebrows immediately furrowed in confusion, yet I didn't dare to look up. This sounded a lot like –
"Aiden," I muttered, my breath caught in my throat.
I took in the familiar brown locks and dark colored eyes. Staring at him, my mouth suddenly dry, I didn't know what to say yet it did not matter since he was turned towards something else anyway. Or rather, someone else.
Why was he here? What happened to his job? I gave his appearance a once over, noting his wrinkled dress shirt and sleeves shoved all the way to his elbows. Absentmindedly, I pushed back wisps of my black hair, my eyes following his lean arm down to his hand still gripping the front of the cart from when he stopped me.
"Are you alright?"
Hearing his concerned tone of voice, I quickly opened my mouth to assure him that I was absolutely fine until I looked up and realized he wasn't even speaking to me.
Surprise flitted across my face as I heard a feminine voice answer with, "You're so dramatic, Aiden. I'm not a porcelain doll, you know."
I couldn't see anyone behind him but I was more surprised at the fact that he was with a woman. I mean, we had broken up over a little less than 5 months ago, after going out for almost two years prior. I fidgeted, awkwardly gripping the shopping cart tensely, as I waited for him to acknowledge me, or, at the very least, spare me a glance.
He scoffed and answered her teasing with his own remark, obviously laced with concern. They were so into their conversation that they would have surely continued to banter in this manner had my elbow not knocked down a plastic toy when I shifted the cart. Said toy crashed to the floor with a loud smack and promptly shrieked various lullabies at once, making me jump in fright while also earning a few glares from other shoppers.
I pivoted on my heel, from the toy to the couple that was now facing me after the huge spectacle I made. Aiden's arm was lovingly wrapped around her shoulders and I faintly thought about when we first began to date. I still couldn't get a good look at her, though, since she was pressed against his side.
"Sophia," he greeted me, "what a strange coincidence to find you about to knock me out at 95 miles per hour."
I shook my head frantically, offering a sheepish smile while I tried to ignore the joke he gave at my expense to get his girlfriend to giggle.
"Yeah, what a small world," I offered back lamely. I continued to squirm, my black and white skirt rustling with each movement while my ballet flats squeaked against the linoleum floor.
"I should have watched where I was going," I said, looking down at the toy nervously before chancing a quick glance at the girl then back at Aiden. Not for long anyway, since I noted how the petite girl's hands settled comfortably on her stomach. Her swollen stomach.
"Oh!" My mouth formed a perfect 'O' as I gasped. The wheels were quickly turning in my mind. How far along was she exactly? Surely, with a stomach that big, she was well into her second trimester. Unless she was having multiples?
"Oh, " I mumbled again, my cheeks flushing with embarrassment. "Congratulations on your…" Trailing off, I couldn't articulate mysupposed joy before gesturing wildly toward her stomach, my own feeling like it was knotted several times over. "Your pregnancy and all."
A quiet chuckle made me switch my attention back to Aiden and I couldn' t help the sudden anger consuming me. How dare he leave me for his career only to hook up with another woman. And then he gets her pregnant!
"Ah, Sophia, always the verbal one." He nodded in my direction, shaking lightly with amusement.
"Ah, Aiden, always the quick one," I tossed back, titling my head in the direction of the woman beside him. We both understood the implication of my words.
Aiden stared back at me with an undecipherable look, before he coughed awkwardly, shifting his footing. A silence reigned for a few moments, only the sound of children's laughter was heard from other aisles. I crossed my arms, thinking about my poorly dressed frame and if that mirror was of any service, my haphazardly made bun slowly coming undone with every step I took.
His girlfriend, or so I assumed, looked between us but never said a word. I licked my chapped lips, feeling the heavy tension in the air. It was severely disappointing how were were reduced to common pleasantries and painful silences.
"…We should go." So focused on my thoughts I missed most of what she said.
Her hand was rubbing her stomach in slow, methodical circles. I observed her, wondering what she had that I didn't. She was a redhead with soft curls framing her face. Small freckles were scattered across her cheeks. It entranced me, the motherly glow she acquired through her pregnancy.
Not even a year ago I thought that I would be in her position, caring for my unborn child, awaiting the day our little one would suddenly make our lives that much happier.
Yet here I am, not even a year later, alone in my apartment consumed with work. Oh, life surely enjoys playing tricks on me.
Looking at her, he nodded, his demeanor noticeably dimmer. I watched as he dropped his arm from her shoulders to her hips.
"Well, it was nice meeting you, Sophia," the woman told me, a polite yet obviously strained smile on her face.
"Likewise," I answered back. I held my right arm over my belly. I felt sick to my stomach. At this point I just wanted to crawl into bed and watch some re-runs of Grey's Anatomy.
Aiden ruffled his hair with his free hand, deeply focused on his own thoughts before grimly tightening his lips into a straight line. "Yeah, we should get going after all."
With calculating eyes, the same ones that assured me how much he loved me way back when, are now staring straight into mine and confirming what I already knew. "You should do the same as well."
As they both turned and walked out of the aisle, I watched them until they were no longer in sight. Sure, our relationship was done and over with but that didn't make it any easier.
Letting out a long sigh, I grasped the cart once again, turning it in the opposite direction, and padded down the aisle. Oh dear, I am in serious need of some Ben & Jerry's right now.