Holly shopped locally for the supplies she would need at the cottage over the weekend. She knew the routine well after all these years. The cupboards would be bare. Nothing could be left over the winter so she needed to stock up with all the usual staples; salt and pepper, condiments, peanut butter. For sure, peanut butter, she thought, and laughed.
On the kitchen wall at the cottage there was a wooden plaque, in the shape of a slice of bread, with the phrase…Man cannot live by bread alone, he must have peanut butter.
She loved peanut butter, ate it on bread, toast, crackers, even by the teaspoon right from the jar. It began as a pregnancy craving, and never diminished after Sarah was born.
The plaque had been a surprise gift from Richard, something he’d found in the village convenience store on one of his visits to the cottage. She’d loved the sentiment, and had immediately hung it over the stove.
In the Village IGA, Holly stood in front of the shelves, stocked full of various brands and types of peanut butter, and the memory hit her with an unbelievable sense of loss. She felt tears threaten, blinked her eyes to stop the flow before they began. After all the anger, it was good to have a memory of something good.
Until that moment, she hadn’t realized how badly she’d needed to feel that Richard had, at least in the beginning, loved her.
With one hand on the shopping cart, she used her other hand to wipe away the stray tear that had escaped.
“I know just how you feel,” a deep voice said from behind her.
Embarrassed to be caught in such an emotional state, in public, she turned and looked into the darkest brown eyes she had ever seen. “What?” she asked flustered and confused.
“I said, I know how you feel. Peanut butter, what a truly god-given gift it is. Chunky or smooth?”
Holly thought this the strangest conversation she had ever had, yet felt compelled to answer. “Smooth, the chunky doesn’t spread well.”
“Exactly,” the man said enthusiastically, reaching by her to select a jar from the shelf. “Jam, grape jelly or marmalade?”
Holly laughed, getting into the fun of it. “Grape jelly first, jam second, and never, ever marmalade.”
“Right! I mean, who in their right mind would put marmalade on peanut butter.” He gave an exaggerated shiver at the thought, and looked at her seriously. “Okay, here’s the biggie. Peanut butter, banana and…?”
“Mayonnaise,” she quickly answered.
“Be still my heart,” the man said, beating his hand on his chest. “It’s a match made in heaven.”
She laughed at his antics. Not knowing what to say, she said nothing, and suddenly felt awkward in the silence. Remembering where she was, what she was doing, she grabbed her cart and prepared to move on. The stranger seemed to understand that she was uncomfortable and stepped back.
“I have to go,” she said and quickly grabbed a jar of peanut butter, tossed it in her cart, and rushed away down the aisle.
She hurried through the remainder of her shopping, aware she’d forgotten half of the items on her list, but she needed to keep ahead of the handsome stranger
It was embarrassing to think how long it had been since a man had flirted with her in such a fun and non-threatening way. While still married, she’d had other men come on to her, other lawyers or business men, so called friends of Richard’s. It occurred to her, as she loaded her groceries in the trunk of her car, that those men might have known that Richard ‘fooled’ around and figured she would be ‘game’ or easy pickings.
She slammed the trunk closed with both hands and stood, leaning on the car. It was a disturbing thought because it made her think Miranda wasn’t Richard’s first dalliance, and she had no way of knowing when, or why, or with whom he had strayed.
Turning, she reached for the cart to return it to the store when she felt someone pull it from her hands.
“Trade,” the man from the peanut butter aisle said. He quickly and easily shoved his cart into hers to return both to the storage area.
“Are you okay?” he asked, one hand on the carts.
“Yes, I’m fine, thanks. Just lost in thought.”
“I’ve got just the thing for that.”
She looked down at the hand extended to her…and saw a familiar orange package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. “You look like you could use a pick-me-up.”
“And Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are the cure?”
“They can’t hurt.”
She took the candy and smiled as the man walked away pushing the carts.
When she was finally seated behind the wheel of her car, she ripped open the package and took her first bite of the chocolate and peanut butter confection. She laughed, for it did brighten her mood. All thoughts of her marriage to a philandering husband vanished at that moment when she tasted that sweet treat.