The Labyrinth of Charlotte Reimann – Episode 18

A Novel by Mira Steffan

In a rush and focused on the shopping list in her hand, Charlotte was pushing the shopping cart through the aisles of the grocery store when she was abruptly brought to a halt at the refrigerated shelf. Another shopping cart was across the aisle and its occupants, a gray-haired woman with a short haircut and expansive build and a pot-bellied man with a toonsure, were arguing loudly about which yogurt to buy.

“Let’s get plain yogurt. Look, there’s way too much sugar in it,” the man pointed to the text on the rim of the cup his wife was holding and looked at her suggestively.

“Then it is indeed not for you,” she said pointedly, examining him from top to bottom, “with your figure,” she followed up teasingly.

“Who did the doctor tell that high blood pressure comes from being overweight?” the latter asked calmly.

Her eyes fired toxic darts in his direction, “And who can’t tie his shoelaces anymore and snorts like a walrus when he tries to bend over?”

Without a word, he tried to take the cup from her hand.

“Don’t you dare. I want the yogurt with chocolate chips,” her voice spiraled higher and higher. Other customers looked curiously in her direction. Her husband poked her rudely in the side and pointed his double jaw at the bystanders.

She lifted her eyebrows arrogantly, turned toward the coolers, quickly packed a pallet of chocolate yogurt into her shopping cart and pushed it toward the pasta shelves with her head held high, ignoring her spouse.

Charlotte shivered. How mean those two were to each other. Love had long since fallen completely by the wayside by then, if it had ever been there at all. I don’t want to end up like that with Justus, she thought, shuddering, as someone tapped her on the shoulder. She turned and caught sight of an attractive male face. It looked vaguely familiar to her. But she could not associate it. She looked at the man doubtfully.

“Leo Schneider. From the seminar,” he added.

“Oh, yes, of course. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you right away. How are you doing? Did it work out with the job?” Charlotte hurled the sentences and questions like rubber bullets. Just like when she had met him on her way home back then, she felt uncomfortable in his presence.

“Very well. I have a new job. I am gonna start working in two weeks.” His blue eyes scrutinized her appraisingly, while he flashed a bright smile.

“I’m glad,” Charlotte said, looking demonstratively at her shopping list. Hopefully he took the hint. She wanted to end the conversation, but she didn’t want to be rude.

“How are things looking for you? Any luck with finding a job yet?”

“Yeah,” she said curtly, letting her gaze wander searchingly around the store. Maybe he understood this silent request.

He didn’t understand her, “What company do you work for?”

In an occupied voice, she mumbled the name in annoyance.


Charlotte shrugged violently at this outburst.

He cleared his throat, “This is my new employer. So soon we’ll be colleagues.”

“Oh,” Charlotte said thinly, her discomfort growing. Frantically, she searched for an excuse to get rid of him. But total silence reigned in her mind.

“I work in the controlling department,” he added, unasked.

WHAT?” Charlotte inhaled sharply. Just don’t show it. Stay calm. She brushed a strand of hair behind her right ear, “Oh…Then we’ll see each other more often soon,” she said under her breath.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Leo Schneider grinned, while he eyed her emotionlessly. He shook her hand and shook it with put-on enthusiasm.

Hastily Charlotte withdrew it from him and took a step back, ” Cheers to a good time.” She was waving him off, “I have to go.” Shivering, she raised her shoulders. She hadn’t even noticed that the management had been looking for another employee for their department. What did they intend by employing a second controller?

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