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Archive for the ‘Location: Shop/Market’ Category

My thoughts leap from here to there. Happily, for relief, there are gossip magazines. I watch as you select an armful of brightly coloured publications telling you all that’s necessary about Cheryl, Jordan and Jennifer. I flick through one and say aloud, Sex Text Saga. You reply, Excuse me, reaching for one more. I scoff but here I am admiring the free shampoo offer with Glamour. I ask you about Tess and Vernon. And then real life walks in through the double doors and says, now then you two. There it is asking, Who is right and who is wrong?

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I’m walking in circles and you ask me if I find it hard to make a decision. I tell you I will answer you later. I have seen every shoulder bag on this street, I’ve asked a stranger where she purchased hers. You wait by the door, ready to snatch at shoplifters or to grab conversation. From my eyelashes, a drop of rain hesitates then falls. The tear of water slips down my face and I say, I never can find the answers. Sunshine on a grey day can be so strange and sad. I don’t manage today so well.

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It’s fashion week and it’s right now. On the door you stand, poised clipboard, broad smile and chipped teeth. I tell you how beautiful I think Liberty is, the fourth floor regally looking down with a timber gaze. I could also tell you what I know about this department store: made from the timber of two ships, bombed for its Rushdie books once, tiers that look into a central interior courtyard. However, none of this is vaguely or voguely interesting. There are nude photographs to see, wine to sip, women with elongated limbs, anguished eyes and puffed fringes to sidestep.

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I am in a rush, I hear the sound of my footsteps, the wheezing of the automatic door opening, the selection of a basket, the apology from a small child and then the crinkle of packets. At the checkout, you have a yoghurt and a bottle of water and tell me you don’t like to eat. This information invites discussion. I am tempted to comment on your hipbones and the strain of your cheeks but I smile instead, tell you I adore the taste of hot tea, creamy scones with jam. I watch you count out £1.39 in small change.

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Your only power these days is to escape into your own body. It starts with averting your eyes, sending your thoughts to your toes, letting your hair fall over your face. It gives you a sense of being in control. Whilst your children grow tall, you are watchful and careful to laugh when things are funny and flatten your mouth in sympathy when they aren’t. Maybe you had a friend called Prue who was the daring one, who rolled her socks to her ankles and tore the pins from her hair. You scan my items, but you’re not really here.

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I remember oranges and you don’t mind me leaving the queue momentarily to find some. When you say, Of course, you reach for my arm in sympathy and recognition. This may be the thing that breaks me today, that stops me in my tracks before driving me forward, turning a corner, making something work, letting everything happen. When I return, you’re touching my yoghurts, reading the ingredients, as though you are making them yours, protecting them in my absence and amusing yourself with the cherry-ness of them. On days like this, I want to take my strangers home with me.

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I buy a packet of wasabi peas to clear my head and chew on a handful as I select birthday biscuits. You treat me as a confidante, as though you are telling me great secrets about the use of butter on these ones, the double chocolate on that. You start to tell me about your diet and lift both hands to your chest in a gesture of both distress and vulnerability, which is so feminine and reliant on rescue, that I avert my eyes from such exposure of emotion. I choose quickly, you want more than I’m willing to give.

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