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Longing

6 Jun

She’s standing on the hot sand, the sun on her cheeks, arms open wide, stretching her crushed, aching heart.  The salty, steamy breeze fills her nostrils and consumes her soft, wobbly belly.  She can hear the waves slapping against the white sand; the faint calling of an exotic bird in the distance.  It’s a strange noise, like it should be soothing but not?  As she turns around it gets louder and louder, shriller and shriller……….

‘Ah fuck,’ thought Bernie.  She looked around.  ‘Yip, still in Lidls.’  She sighed.  The ‘bird’ was her youngest, the ‘slapping’ was her middle hitting him on the the back of the head with a kid-on packet of custard creams and the ‘salty steam’ must have been her eldest firing into a packet of kid-on Gary Lineker salt and vinegar crisps.  ‘God, I’m only at the veggies and they’re trying to kill each other.’  She wanders up and down the aisles, fellow zombies looking on dissaprovingly at the young mum ignoring her rowdy kids, staring at her phone.  They would never know that she was adding up everything that was filling the empty trolley and eventually the empty fridge.   ‘Rather be here than at home,’ she admitted.

At home Bernie is surrounded by constant mess, washings, fighting, kids, noise, bills and loneliness.  At thirty-two, Bernie had found herself alone, three kids, no husband,  threat of eviction and crippled with hopelessness.  So in truth, a wee trip to the shops filled the time between picking up from school and tea time. 
‘Oooooh made it to the middle aisle,’ thought Bernie a little too excitedly for a Tuesday afternoon,
‘wonder what shit they’re selling here.’
‘Mum,’ piped up the eldest,
‘you really don’t need another hundred piece sewing kit,’
‘Dammit,’ muttered Bernie, with all the conviction of a scolded child.  Onto the next corridor of doom then.

Once past the dairy and the frozen offerings, the end was in sight.  She’d mananged to stave off World War Three AND come in under budget!
‘Hmmmmm red or white,’ she asked herself,
‘Christ who am I trying to kid,’ and she reached for the cheapest, pushing the feelings of failure ever deeper.  On the the long walk to the ‘healthy’ checkout, ( bear in mind you have to walk past a million bottles of wine, beer and cider to get to it) Bernie has the familiar realisation that she’s left 174 ‘bags for life’ in the ‘must remember bags’ drawer.  She makes it 178 and glances at the three most expensive items in her trolley.  The feelings of failure subside and for that moment Bernie is fulfilled and her heart skips a beat with pride.

She’s staring into the distance, not really noticing the pishing rain and gale force winds (it’s June), and she can smell the salty crisps, the slapping noise but this time the youngest is getting his own back, and the shrill noise again,  getting louder and louder…….

‘Ah fuck,’ thought Mary.  She looked around.  She was still standing on the hot sand, the sun on her cheeks; except her arms had found their way around her soft, wobbly, empty belly; wondering where the bump had gone. The salty steamy tears were flowing again, chasing the gentle tide away.  She realised then that the noise wasn’t coming from a bird at all but from her own dry mouth, shrill and pained, all consuming and lonely.  Mary’s crushed, aching heart was raw and empty, just like the fridge.

The End

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