It was supposed to be a quick in-and-out job. I only needed some fruit. Nothing fancy. Some bananas, some apples. Maybe grapes if they were on offer. A simple trip.
Until I saw the blueberries.
The ripe, purple-blue, bubbles gleamed at me. I was expertly juggling my wares with both hands when they caught my eye. I approached the display and let the cool chill of the open front fridge drift over me. The neat little packages waited expectantly, expertly stacked on top of one another. I reached out to pluck one of the squares from the pile.
It was too much.
Rather than let my balanced selections drop to the floor, I felt the punnet of blueberries slide between my fingers. In seeming slow motion, they hit the floor and quickly dispersed to all corners of the surrounding area. To freedom. I held my breath until the very last one had stopped its hasty spin away from me. I looked down at the small pile still gathered by the toe of my shoe.
My mind slipped slide ways to a hidden memory.
Walking to school, hand held fast by my mother, the bright red berries of an unknown tree scattered on the path in front of us. My mother stopped and looked down at them. I looked up at her. Slowly, cautiously, she reached out her shoe, bringing it down purposely, squishing one berry, then a second. Orange pulp and juice fanned out from under her triumphant foot. She looked at me and smiled. Without a word, we began to stomp and stamp and squish the remaining berries. Together. Hand in hand.
As we walked away she breathed a sigh of relief. ‘That feels better’, she said to no one in particular.
Back in the store the events of the morning turn somersaults in mind. No staff member has arrived to assist me in my moment of need. I can’t take my eyes from the glistening globules on the floor.
Slowly, cautiously, I reach out the toe of my shoe.
Elaine Mead is a writer from London, currently residing in Hobart, Tasmania. Her flash fiction and short stories have been published with Reflex Press, National Flash Fiction Day, Writers HQ, The Suburban Review, Underground Writers and others.