Lake Effect, Spring 2004, Volume 8: from The Woman in White

Gary Fincke


from The Woman in White

     The woman in white blocked the aisle with her grocery cart. She stood beside it, fixed on the disposable diaper display. My daughter stopped to heft three sizes of paper towels, comparing them slowly so I could stare while the woman in white seemed to me memorizing the specific details of the toddler size. “Don’t be obvious,” Shannon said, “you’re in the city now,” but the woman in white hadn’t moved, by the time Shannon warned me, for thirty seconds.
     She wore white plastic bags over her hands and her shoes. Her white dress was tucked in at the ankles and wrists and ended in a high collar where the white stripes of cloth wove themselves around her face and hair like the burial stripping worn by every escapee from the mummy’s tomb.
     Shannon selected the generic brand of paper towels and u-turned her cart instead of following the aisle. The woman in white, after we looped past dog food and cereal in the adjoining aisle, and then passed the other end of paper products where toilet paper was on sale, was still considering diapers. “You’ll see her again,” Shannon said. “She walks the streets, from here to my block, as long as it’s nice out. She stares the same way at Clem when I walk him.”
     “Does he know?”
     “I think so, but he never barks.”
     “He ought to. She could use a white dog.”…