The time up until Thanksgiving went a lot faster than she thought it would. She managed to find a handbag online that was just what she'd been thinking about that offered free returns in case it wasn't what she really wanted. It complemented the coat and cost less than what she'd budgeted.
Everyone at work made a big fuss over her new coat.
"Wow," said her manager. "You look like you have a serious job instead of here, ha ha."
"Ha ha," said her coworkers as seriously as they were able because they all knew they were some of the scruffiest dresser in the world. They saw their clients every few years and dressed as best they were able then, spending any clothing budget for groceries, rent, and the occasional trip somewhere.
"I'm going to San Francisco," said a guy who wore pants so old they had a shine to them who liked to spend on two things -- trips and whores.
"Did I tell you?" asked the middle-aged account supervisor. "I'm spending Thanksgiving in Phoenix? Got a package deal with my son including turkey dinner, breakfast every morning, and car rental."
"I can hardly wait!" exclaimed the woman with whom she shared a pod. "I'm going to London, then taking Eurostar to Paris, then having a week at the Pullman Hotel by the Eiffel Tower."
They rarely bought new things and wondered how she could buy a new coat and bag. They didn't notice that she rarely took trips and looked much more pulled together than everyone else.
Mostly, in the days leading up to the holiday, she stayed away from the part of downtown where she'd seen Handsome and the Giant, following the usual routes to lunch and home until the holiday came, taking cabs to meet friends for dinner. She took a cab when she went back to the dermatologist to have the stitches from the biopsy removed, even though it was a favorite walk of hers.
"Safety first," she said out loud as she gave a cabbie the fare and a generous tip.
"Sanjit," said the cabbie. "It's pronounced "san" like San Francisco and "jeet" like a Jeep car. Sanjit," said the cabbie.
"Okay, Sanjit," she said. "Thanks."
Sanjit didn't need to know the extent of her paranoia.
"All clear," said the dermatologist and had one of her many residents remove the stitches. "Come back in a year unless you see something questionable."
"Happy Thanksgiving," she said to the dermatologist and the residents.
They all mumbled back some greeting or other. She left their offices and took a taxi to the subway, overtipping per usual.
Instead of going home, she went to the supermarket and got the ingredients for her cranberry relish. She got the recipe from the NPR website years before and made it on the outside chance people would enjoy it. It was a big success. Family members requested she made it every year since. She was a decent cook for herself but struggled with what to bring for family dinners. Everyone knew it and kindly let her do the one thing she was able to do. It was easily assembled the morning of the holiday.
As she entered the parking lot of the supermarket -- not the closest to her home but the most convenient as far as public transportation went -- she spotted a small flesh-toned Fiat 500 in on of the spots. She'd looked at the license number on her phone so many times that she'd memorized the number. She walked right up to the car and looked at the plates.
"My life so sucks," she said aloud and quickly turned around to make sure no one had heard her. People were heading into the store but no one heard her speak.
She considered just walking back and forth on the sidewalk by the store, pretending to be waiting for someone, until she saw him leave but decided to just go in and look for him. He was a giant. He was easy to spot.
Except she never spotted him. She went through the store grabbing the items for cranberry relish and dropping them in her basket. The lines were long with last-minute shoppers and he wasn't in one of the lines. She tried to be nonchalant in line but was sweating profusely from the top of her head and her stomach was releasing butterflies. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, moved forward in line, eventually paid for her items. He wasn't in the store that she could see.
She hoped like hell he hadn't spotted her.