She reaches me and I am elated, overjoyed, exultant, not only that she has finished but because she is with me, we are on the same corner, waiting for the traffic light to turn green, the passing cars whirring like bees in our ears. O, I am happy to have her at my side! We shall cross the crosswalk, hand in hand, heart to heart, boldly and unabashedly in love, so that all the people waiting at the red light can see it, and the ones who are in thier cars alone and have no one will probably feel a bit sad and turn up "Nothing Compares 2 U" on the radio, but we will not care, for we are together and in love and not in the car singing along to an Irish singer who shaves her head. I extend my arms to her in standard pre-loving-embrace style.
"Don't touch me," she says.
Apparently there is some "zone" that Maria enters when she is jogging, and within said "zone" there is a "space" and this "space" is "personal," and in this "personal space zone" Maria has achieved a state of "hyperawareness of (her) personal space," which apparently feels threatened when I extend my arms in indication of expressing a sentimental feeling (though perhaps I am just simulating flight and don't want a hug, wouldn't accept one if she offered) and wishing said sentimental feeling to result in physical contact of some kind, preferably an embrace, though I'd settle for a hand-shake or even a high-five. People become serial killers because they never had any one to give them a hug. Also, when she says that she becomes "hyperaware" of her surroundings, you would think that she means her senses are heightened to a preternatural level, whether a product of increased adrenaline or something really biological and scientific, to the point where she can count the wing-beats of a hummingbird and can tell when you are lying because she hears your heart rate increase, and if you get lost she can track you via your scent. But it appears that this "hyperawareness" means that Steve can't get anywhere near her and definitely can't raise his arms towards her in huggly-manner and basically shouldn't speak to her at all for a couple of minutes after the run has finished and must pretend to be interested in the buildings around him and certainly not interested in Maria or her "personal space" or any desire to hug her or put his hand on the small of her back, which is in violation of her "personal space" and will not be tolerated and will bring upon Steve many caustic words, combined to equal, "Don't touch me."
Today Maria goes to Savers, a trendy, hip, low-scale thrift store that is sort of like the Wal-Mart of thrift stores. We shop there because we feel the clothes there are rich in history, that every shirt has a tale (tail, clever). She goes there alone, with the intent of purchasing a white shirt for a photographic event to occur in the near future. Though I am not with her I am holding correspondence with her through text messages we send to eachother like little butterflies that speak for us. She tells me that she has found the coolest vest ever, but through a cognitive lapse she leaves it in the changing stall. Upon returning to retrieve the coolest vest ever, she finds that the c.v.e. is gone, disappeared, vanished, dematerialized, or evaporated or something, because it is not there. Frustrated but hopeful, she stakes out the changing stalls like a lion in the Serengeti, waiting to pounce upon the unfortunate patron who pilfered the c.v.e. She notices a woman standing outside one of the stalls with two shopping carts, one full of clothes for her daughter to try on and the other for clothes that her daughter has tried on but which aren't good enough for her.
Maria is in a conundrum. I am in a conundrum, she thinks to herself. How can she retrieve the c.v.e. from the sixteen-year old daughter and her surely surly mother? Ideas race through her mind, ways in which she can recoup the c.v.e. Ask for it. Pull the fire alarm. Tell daughter the vest makes her look fat. Say to mother and daughter, "Hey, that's the vest we donated after grandmother died." Wait until daughter comes out of the stall and brain her with the blackjack. First brain mother with blackjack, and then brain daughter. Check for blackjack. No blackjack. Maria calls one of her sisters and this sister advises her to enter into dialogue with mother and daughter. Maria waits for mother and daughter to finish, approaches.
"Did you happen to see a coolest vest ever lying around?"
"Oh, no," says daughter, "is it yours?"
Mother says nothing, but tightens grip on bar of shopping cart.
"Yeah," says Maria, "I was going to buy it but I left it in the changing room. But if you want it you can have it; I'm not going to steal it from you or anything."
Mother says nothing, but sizes Maria up and looks for weaknesses.
"Well," says daughter, "you can totally have it, since you saw it first, you know."
"Yeah, but if you were going to get it it's okay..."
"No, if you saw it first it's yours."
Mother says nothing, wonders where she went wrong with daughter.
Daughter hands Maria the c.v.e., a conciliatory gesture, but c.v.e. is intercepted by the quick hands of the mother, who disengages her hands from the shopping carts and snatches the c.v.e. "This is good enough for my daughter," says the mother. She attempts to swallow the c.v.e. in order to keep it for her daughter and not for Maria, but Maria finds the blackjack and brains the mother, expulsing the c.v.e. from the mother's throat and mouth and into the air, high up towards the ceiling, swirling and twirling. Everyone in the store freezes, they are riveted, eyes following the twirling, swirling vest. It begins its descent, and old women put their hands to their mouths and small children clench the hems of their mothers' skirts. Maria reaches and reaches, reaching more than she's ever reached before, and catches the vest. She looks at the daughter, who smiles and gives her that hey-my-mom-deserved-it-and-this-kind-of-thing-happens-whenever-we-go-out-I-can't-take-her-anywhere kind of look, indicating that there will be no remonstration. Maria heads to the register and purchases the c.v.e. Standing in the threshold of Savers she raises the c.v.e. over her head, gives a triumphant howl, and comes and picks me up from work.