He was two aisles over. His head tilted in that deliberate way, he was palpating the avocado with his thumb. She gripped the handle of the cart and tried to breathe. It had been more than five years since she'd gone to his office for help. Sat in the blue leather chair. Tilted her heart until her life spilled out.
She'd laughed when she'd told him about the time she'd tried to grow a tree from the stone of an avocado. She'd pushed toothpicks into the sides and suspended it from the rim of a yogurt tub so that it just touched the water. Then she'd slid the tub onto a window ledge and let the curtain drop. Then she forgot about it. The water evaporated, and the stone dried up and cracked. One more time she hadn't followed through.
There was grey in his hair now and his face was leaner, but his scarf was perfectly knotted around the collar of his cashmere coat. She watched him turn the avocado over, gently press the rind, watched him consider, weigh. She watched him put it back and choose another. She had gripped the arms of the blue chair as he'd drawn out the pain that kept her tight, hard, suspended. One time he had shifted his chair and leaned in, pressed her wrist with a thumb, testing. Then he'd leaned in farther. And she'd let him. Until she didn't.
On the courthouse steps the first day a woman in a black coat threw ketchup at her. He cured me! she screamed. On the last day the judge shrugged and cracked his gavel—there wasn't enough evidence. That's how she knew the truth didn't matter. Even though she'd followed through.
She watched as he returned the avocado to the bin, balancing it on top of the pile. He was always mindful. The bruises never showed.