At the Checkout

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‘How are you today?’

‘Fine, thanks. You?’ I reply, then turn away to bellow at my children, who are wrestling on the floor, as I try to stuff my massive amount of shopping into bags.

‘Not bad, thanks.’ I nod briefly and the lad on the checkout continues. ‘Have you much planned this afternoon?’

‘GET UP OFF THE FLOOR NOW AND LEAVE YOUR BROTHER ALONE!’ I take a deep breath and dump two cartons of milk into my bag on top of the tomatoes. They’ll be squashed, but I am beyond caring.

‘I said, have you much planned this afternoon?’

I stare at the young man bleeping my goods through the checkout at a phenomenal rate. It’s easy for him to talk and bleep. Not so easy for me to pack and supervise and maintain my sanity after an hour of supermarketing – and still make polite chit chat.

Don’t be rude Fiona, he’s been told to ask you. He’s just doing his job. So I smile, although it might be more of a grimace. ‘Just looking after those two,’ I say, glaring at my children, one of whom is crying and hypocritically accusing his brother of violence.

‘What’s the weather like today?’

‘Just what it looks like out of those big windows,’ I answer, no longer able to keep that hint of sarcasm and irritation out of my voice. I attempt to shake my youngest child off my leg as I continue cramming purchases into carrier bags. Faster, faster, before I crack.

What’s your name?’

That’s a bit presumptuous, I think, before realising he has turned his attention to my son, who immediately stands behind me and presses his face into my bum.

‘Are you shy?’ he asks.

I try to prise the child off my buttocks while still packing the groceries.

‘So, what’s his name?’ He looks at me expectantly.

‘It’s bloody Andrew, alright.’

Ok, I don’t actually swear at him. I manage to keep that part in my head. But I know I am not going to be able to hold it back for much longer. The swears are clamouring to be released. I have to get out of there. Faster, faster, pack, pack, pack. Please don’t ask me any more questions, I silently beg him. I’ll be rude and then I’ll feel like a fleabag for the rest of the day.

‘Mummy’s going to fart on your face,’ says the older child to his younger brother, who is still clinging to my rear in case the man asks him anymore questions; the anti-social streak in my family runs deep. Thankfully the lad on the checkout can’t interrogate me anymore because he’s trying not to laugh.

Saved by toilet humour.

If you enjoyed this, you might want to consider my debut novel, Daughter, Disappeared, a hard-hitting ‘women in jeopardy’ thriller, set in Tunisia. Please read the reviews on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2eCnZRf

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