Her hair falling to the side of her face and her long denim skirt plastered against her sweaty legs, Zoe hefted a large trash can in her arm and dumped an array of plastics into the “Plastics Only” barrel. She wiped a smear of peanut butter off her plaid shirt and stepped aside, narrowly missing the grey wall.
Another woman, dressed in designer jeans and a white blouse, stepped in and tipped a small can. Plastics of various shapes and sizes cascaded into the barrel.
And one shoe.
Zoe lifted her index finger. “Oh, uh … I think you … uh … just lost a shoe.”
The woman peered down at her well-matched feet. Two neon-pink tennis shoes stared back.
Tiptoeing over the barrel, Zoe peered in. She pointed to a black heel poking out of the containers, looking distinctly out of place.
The other woman inched closer as if she thought Zoe might make a weird attempt to dump her to into the barrel. Glancing over the edge, she frowned. “Oh, my! That’s my best dress shoe. How’d that get in there?”
Zoe bit her lip.
The woman lunged and almost fell in.
Clutching the woman’s arm with one hand, Zoe knocked the containers out of the way with the other. She snatched the miserable shoe from its indignity and held it high with a smile. “Got it!”
Accepting the wayward foot apparel, the woman laughed. Her gaze rolled up and down Zoe with practiced care. “My name’s Lilith.” She considered her shoe. “I should pay you something.”
Zoe snorted. “For one shoe? Hardly. I don’t get paid till I retrieve a complete pair.”
Lilith picked up her can and started for the open parking lot. She glanced aside at Zoe, who lugged the large trash can in her arms. “You Amish or something?”
Her eyes wide, Zoe looked around as if Lilith was talking to someone else. She realized her mistake and blushed. “Oh, no. Just —” She giggled. “Well, I once went three whole days without a washing machine.” She opened her car door and wedged the can in the back seat. “That’s as far from reality as I ever want to go.” She folded her arms and leaned against her battered Chevy Cruise.
Lilith dropped her can in the hatchback of her silver Honda Accord, turned, and met Zoe’s gaze.
“I’m what you might call green — I guess.” She shifted and dug her keys out of a deep pocket. “I try to live wisely.”
Lilith twirled her keychain. “I’m liberal too. Got a color-coded chart of all my causes at home.”
Zoe tripped as she circled around her car. “Really? I’m conservative, but I’ve got a chart too, except most of my causes have names … David, Stephen, Ellen …”
“Your causes are your kids? How many do you have?”
“Oh, God. That’s not particularly green … or wise in my book.”
Zoe shrugged. “Perhaps. But it’s liberal in the best sense of the word.” She opened her car door and propped her arm on the edge. “Funny, but I bet it’s more the labels we use than who we are that separate us.”
Lilith’s eyes narrowed. “You really think so?”
Zoe laughed. “Two women who keep color-coded charts could possibly be soul mates.” She ducked into her car, started the engine, and rolled down the window. She called over. “Oh, and I have the exact match to your shoe. Except — mine is midnight blue.”
Copyright 2018 Ann K. Frailey