Bloody cheap...bags! Urgh. Two of the handles snapped off a yard back. Makes sense. Ah well, at least nothing burst out. Then again, that box of cereal is burrowing a hole through the bottom. I can feel its corner pressing against my middle finger. Itchy.
I thrust the bags down on the doorstep; dig a hand into the denim pit that is my right pocket. The wallet always makes for a tight squeeze. I can just feel the bottom half of the key though. Ouch! Fucking sharp prong!
I slip my hand out. Has it drawn blood? Not yet. Feel a cut though. Either way, it’s still effective. I dig deeper.
Mum’s visiting Edith again. It’s good that she’s there for the woman but it doesn’t help that she’s always toddling off to the hospital on Tuesdays. I hate shopping on my own. I never know what impulse buys to follow through with, how to rationally resist a 2-for-1 deal. The budget’s too lenient.
Take today, for example. I got the beans, the cereal, the sugar and the salad, and I still had a fiver. If there’s ever any change left over, do what you think is wisest, Mum always says. I saw a deal on hand cream. Our usual brand is all runny and sticky, so I chucked this new stuff into the trolley. Now I’m questioning just how wise it was to even bother.
I yank the keys out, flick through them to the right one. It’s looking a little worse for wear, a bit flimsy at the middle. Are the spares still in the top drawer in the dining room? Among all the other shit Dad insisted on burrowing away.
I reach for the lock, hear mumbling in the distance. I turn back, catch a shimmer of reflector coat yellow. The police. Two officers: a man and a woman. I drop the keys, shuffle back down the garden path.
They’re stood beside a lamppost, tying something onto it. The woman is pulling the tie from behind and the man has his hands out, like he’s measuring how level the sign is. The sign?
I wait a moment as the man steps forward, watch the woman hurry after him. I give them two yards or so before I make a move.
Sometimes I hate instinct. Strike that, I hate instinct most of the time. I hate how it makes every step a nervous little itch. I hate how that itch sharpens into a scratch. And I really fucking hate how that scratch makes you want to stop. But you can’t.
I can’t. The lamppost is barely inches away. The sign flashes from the corner. It’s laminated. Why does that bother me?
I shut my eyes as I move around it. I daren’t look at a single word, not until I see it all there together. My eye lids soften. Maybe it isn’t what I’m thinking. This is all ridiculous. I just need to look and see that...
HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN?
Of course, I have. Of course, I fucking have.
His face is all fuzzy round the edges. His hair is shaved close to the skull. A cigarette sags in his crooked mouth. His eyes are half shut in a dozy expression. His eyes...
I step back. No. I’m not looking anymore. I won’t read on. I don’t care what his name was, who it is that’s looking for him or even since when. I’m not responsible. It was an accident. It was an accident. It wasn’t me.
I tilt my head up slightly. Those officers are looking back now. The woman seems to be stopping, maybe even suspecting. Recognising me. I turn my back on them: the shimmering poster, the shining people. They won’t remember me if I leave them all behind.
I’m heading up the pavement, moving round the corner. The hem of my coat slaps the gate. I tug it close. Nobody knows. Nobody would remember me, because it’s me.
I walk into the door. I spin around; snatch the keys from the stone. I cling to the right one, eyes staring back at the poster from over next door’s hedge. I jab the key into the lock. It bangs against the door frame. I glance at it, try again. Are those two sets of footsteps? Bang. Try again. If only I could see past that...
I turn back. The key is in the lock. The top bits still on the key ring. An inch apart.
Shit. Shit, shit, shitty shit! I bang on the door. I raise my fist again.
Mum. She won’t be back for another hour yet. I let it drop.
Maybe if I... Okay, well, how about... Fucking fingernails! Why don’t they have any grip? Shit.
I sigh, scoop up the bags. Well then. The back door. There’s no other way.
I glance up the pavement. The police have gone. The poster’s still there. I turn, head in the opposite direction. The long way round.
Once again, please feel free to tell me what you think. The background info should be sufficient but if you do have any further questions or comments then please post them below.
Thanks for reading,