She sits in her living room, amidst empty Pop Tart boxes.
It’s because if I feel confused, I go to the cans. The rows of the Spaghetti, Herb-Ox and Chilli. I’ll put them in my basket: three wide four across. Campbell’s tomato juice and Heinz beans. I don’t much like opening cans, fiddly with the sink and all, but I like having them in the cupboard. Like dad would always have them stocked.
But a shop assistant was staring at me. Harriett – I read off her label, which was caught on the lace of her bra as her top was buttoned low. She was stacking toothpaste but she kept looking over at me. Staring. Her hair was blond and high, stiff like you could snap it off. She was pretty, you’d say, in an overdone way. Her pinafore was tight, even on her. She was small. You know what they’re thinking when they’re small and pretty and staring.
So the cans didn’t help me, because of Harriett, because Harriett made me uncomfortable with her toothpaste and lace. I left the basket, middle of the isle, when she had her back turned.
And I was leaving, quickly, even though I still had to buy the sausages for tea. I’d had to go. The car park was empty, and it felt nice – warm. I sat on the boot of my car, perched and ate a Double Decker because that’s what I do when I feel… I always eat the top layer off first and then the next because that way it lasts longer. The chocolate will stick to your fingers, but you just (licks fingers). I’d gotten to the end of the first layer when I got this sense that I was being watched. Harriett was standing there, in the middle of the car park. She looked almost… well she’d just caught the light from the store and the sun in such a way… it was a pinkish light, marshmallow you could say, flicked off her hair… like she’d dropped there from… somewhere not belonging to this world. She was holding this bag which she handed to me. I could hear it was full of cans, my cans. I took it from her getting chocolate on the handle which made her smile or laugh but it wasn’t… it was kind. Why would she do that? Why would she come out and give them to me and look like that in that light?
It was like she knew why I’d gone there. Knew it all in her slim prettiness. But it’s made me not know even more.