Quid checked the list again, who the hell put all the vegetables and fruits on it, she wondered. The only items she had on the list were prepackaged meals – microwaveable stuff, mac and cheese, boxed rice, and ramen. It could have been anyone because they all ate a lot healthier than her. She grabbed salad mixes and put three of every requested fruit and veggie in the cart. The faster she was done here, the faster she could get back to the library.

“Um, excuse me,” someone said and Quid turned to her left to find a man smiling at her sheepishly. “I know it’s none of my business, but is this your first time grocery shopping?”

Quid knew she was blushing scarlet as her throat closed up, her shoulders hunched, and she dropped her head.

“Shiitake mushrooms,” he blurted. “I’m sorry, I just noticed you weren’t bagging your produce…or checking its ripeness.”

Her shoulders were touching her ears. Stupid, she mentally hissed at herself.

“It’s not really that big a deal, really, I just, would you like some help? I can help?” The man sighed softly. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have bothered you, you’re doing a great job.”

Quid thought of the disappointed looks on everyone’s faces if she messed this up and a different kind of panic gripped her, one that motivated her so speak instead of staying silent.

“Okay,” she all but whispered.

“Okay?” he repeated and she nodded, risking a look up at him.

He looked confused, a furrow between his eyebrows. He had brown eyes and blond hair and he was wearing slacks, a button-down shirt, and a sports jacket. He was rumpled and had a messenger bag strapped across his chest, a shopping basket in one hand.

Quid held the list out to him and he laughed, the furrow disappearing as his eyes lit up.

“Oh, okay!” he said and took the list.

He showed her where the plastic bags and twist ties were, how to tell when a watermelon was ripe, what good onions felt like, and just how firm/soft tomatoes should be. When the produce portion of her list was done, he grinned at her.

“It was a pleasure to meet you,” he told her. “My name’s Galen, hopefully I’ll see you around again.”

And with that he was gone, Quid had only spoken one word to him the whole time, but she found herself hoping with him.

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