Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)
TITLE: Relief Shopping
By Folakemi Emem-Akpan
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
A whirl of cool air rushes at me in an embrace. I lean into it, grateful, hopeful, and expectant.
‘Can I help you?’ She’s short, about sixteen and wearing too much make up. She’s sporting a glorious smile nevertheless. There’s something warm about her, something spontaneous, something you want to reach out and touch. Just like my Tina.
‘No thanks. I can find my way around.’ Then she smiles again and this time, I’m unnerved. There’s something haunting about her as well and for me, she’s the emblem of sorrow, of what I’ve lost, of the pain in my heart that never lets up.
I step into the bowels of the supermarket and find the women clothing department. There is something for everyone, lingerie for young sexy women and sack-like clothes for the extra-modest. I run my fingers along an exquisite pink shawl. It feels like a thousand grains of fine sand. It looks like something she would have made, not bought, but I put it into my cart nevertheless. My mother’s made many a fine things for family, friends and strangers alike but she has so precious few of the heartfelt gifts she gives.
This is just perfect for her.
A million tiny pricks at the back of my eyes inform me that I am about to give in to emotions. I blink the tears back furiously. I’ve cried a million tears already, died a thousand tears and yet nothing has changed.
When I pick up the bottle of perfume, my thoughts run towards my daughter. My Tina. Boundless energy, talking non-stop, taking on life like a new challenge. I force myself not to cry and think about Mothers Day instead. In a week, I’d give my mother her new gift, and Tina would give me the perfume I’ve just bought.
‘Are you okay?’
I turn swiftly to the source of intrusion and realise embarrassedly that I have been standing at the same spot for a while.
‘Yes. And thank you.’
I watch, lost in a world of my own, as the girl at the counter rings up my purchases.
I see mother and Tina waving as they take off in Tina’s first car.
‘We’ll be back in a little while. I just want to show grandmummy my driving skills.’
I wave and go back inside and I’m soon lost in the bustle of the kitchen.
‘Here you go.’ The counter girl’s voice jerks me back to the present.
I pay, give her a tip and pick up the now wrapped gifts. One bears mother’s name and on the other is my name. It would be the first Mothers Day without both of them. They didn’t come back in a little while as Tina had promised. They came back much later and not in the fashion I expected.
‘We’re sorry madam. She ran a red light and…there was nothing anybody could do.’ And then they showed me their lifeless bodies, Tina’s face covered in blood, Mother looking as if she was only asleep.
I step into the hot sunshine and examine the gifts in my hands. Relief begins to spread through the frozen part of my heart as I start to make plans. The shawl will be sent to Mother’s favorite charity, the perfume I will use. It’s just the kind of thing Tina would have bought me.
‘Are you sure you’re okay?’ I look up into the eyes of the woman who’d asked me the same question inside the supermarket.
A slow smile forms at the sides of my lips. I nod slowly as realization sets in. Both women had known the Lord, both had lived for Him. I clutch the gifts to my chest and allow the smile reach my heart.
‘Yes, I’m okay.’
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