At this particular moment in time, she is wondering why no one told her it’s the small things that get to you the most. Her feet have been rooted to the floor about a third of the way down Aisle Three for approximately ten minutes now. She is trying to look normal, to catch her breath, to seem like she’s simply invested in choosing the right product and that everything is fine. If anyone speaks to her she’s almost certain to lose composure. No one must know she’s having a panic attack brought on by chopped tomatoes.
The tin in question, the one that started this now eleven minute episode, is beginning to look blurry. She can’t decide whether blinking will help to clear her tears, or if it will allow them to escape, so she stands eyes wide, staring in the direction of the offending article, breathing deeply in and out to the count of three. This is ridiculous, she keeps thinking, this is ridiculous.
Not those ones, these ones, she hears her mother say, this is the best brand you can get. Only the best for a special tea.
She sees her small, obedient hands reaching for the glossy red and white packaging, lifting two cans and placing them carefully into the trolley. She remembers the feeling of lifting the ring pull, of peeling back the lid, the satisfying crunch as she prised it open. The sizzle and hiss of liquid hitting hot metal and beginning to bubble. Glancing up to ensure there was approval in her mother’s eyes.
Her first cookery lesson began outside their kitchen. It started in a supermarket aisle. A lesson that became a ritual, a brand that became a staple, subsequent hours spanning years spent sharing secrets over boiling pans. Then, suddenly, she is standing alone in an empty kitchen.
“Excuse me,” they mumble at the same time as they push past her, as the trolley knocks her ankle and she stumbles forward. She swings around to see who hit her and with that motion her bag hits the shelf. Cans scatter everywhere. One cracks open as it hits the floor. The ground around her feet becomes a spattered sea of red.
To read the full piece by Lucy Goodwill buy a copy of issue #1 - available in the shop now.