Rob decided she was neither military nor huntress, contrary to the camouflage hoodie. He decided, and the likelihood justified the assumption, she was just another slovenly, gross redneck.
The pandemic had left store shelves bare of most essentials. Rob had rushed inside for a bag of salad to take to his work. He’d calculated his moves. He swiftly paid with the anticipation of dashing out the exit, but he got stuck behind this dawdling, camouflaged behemoth. She was as wide and weighty as an offensive lineman but lacked any of a lineman’s strength or agility, made even worse by a cart filled with case upon case of holocaust water.
Rob waited while she dragged her feet like on a vacation or taking a leisurely stroll in a goddamned park instead of being in the middle of a goddamned pandemic. She pushed that cart full of water with the strain and pace of Sisyphus rolling his goddamned stone. With Rob trailing, she finally got to the exit. The doors slid open. Rob had primed himself to make a move. He planned on her second step outside, he ought to have the clearance to slip around, then scamper off to be where he needed to be and do what he needed to do. He needed to make a quick move to left to get around, but the woman and the girl with her, in addition to oncoming traffic from all directions, stifled his play.
She’d hit the exit, giving Rob some reason for relief. But then she just stood there, one step outside the sliding doors. The afternoon’s drizzle had given her pause. She had stalled on the first step. Rob was stuck, waiting for this bitch to take just one more.
Move, Rob cried inside. Just move. Just one more fucking step.
He stood there for seconds that felt exponentially longer. He stood there waiting for an awareness of her surroundings to creep upon her, though he held very little hope of that. He awaited her enlightenment that she was part of a crowd – that she was more than just herself and the myopia of her acute, personal experience. But it didn’t come, and he stood there knowing that even if it came, it wasn’t likely to last.
Instead, she just hung at the exit, sagging onto the cart. Then she said to the little girl beside her, “Call grandma. No way I’m going out there and getting wet.”
The little girl pulled out the phone while nobody else could escape.
For fuck’s sake, Rob said to himself. So these are gonna be the survivors?