The line ahead of them moved, Rex scanning the progress of the other lines as Ariana pushed their cart forward. Five was moving very swiftly, two other Stop and Shop customers abandoning their lines in response; he still felt satisfied with his decision.
“I had uncle, used to do the fencing.” Rex raised his eyebrows at Ariana in response. She held her right hand high above her head. “Sablya.”
“Saber?” Ariana nodded enthusiastically. “Yes. Russians are famous internationally for their sabrists. Me, I don’t fence saber much, I mostly do epee, some foil.”
Ariana leaned forward. “Ee — pie?”
“Epee.” Rex cleared his throat. “Eh — paay.”
Ariana stood upright behind her shopping cart, smiled broadly. “Ee-pee.”
Rex decided not to push the matter further. Ariana’s English had improved dramatically since their first meeting five years ago, when she and Rex had to rely on hand signals in order for her to ask about borrowing milk. He still spoke a step slower than usual when addressing her, and her sentence syntax sometimes made her sound like a confused Yoda (Go store today, groceries family you need?), but the warmth of her personality, the gentleness of her spirit, more than compensated for the little remaining language barrier that existed between then.
Their line pushed forward again, and the woman in the brown coat ahead of them placed the narrow rectangular plastic order divider on the black conveyor belt that propelled her items towards the cashier. Rex pulled their shopping cart forward, and began placing his family’s items on the belt.
“And how is Miss Blago doing today?” Intent on his task, Rex was barely aware of the conversation behind him.