The prompt at Writer’s Island this week is: Superstition
Friday the thirteenth of May, three-thirty pm. “Twenty-five, twenty-six please…” I place the eggs carefully on the top of everything else so they don’t get broken!
I clear the counter for the next customer, who begins taking her stuff from the trolley and stacking it on the check-out. I try not to yawn; the woman I’m watching blearily looks almost as bored as I feel myself. She’s pretty old – I see there are quite a few wrinkles beneath her eyes, and her hair is steel grey. Her hair seems to be almost made of metal – not hair at all, but a thin steel sheet encasing her head. Like a sort of protective helmet I suppose… I shake my head to clear the vision. I think I definitely had too much to drink last night… I’m still seeing things even after a few hours sleep. I jab my crimson finger nails on the counter, taking care not to squash the packet of moon cakes which the woman has put there, beside the Chinese leaves, eggs, noodles, beans and other such things. My eye runs over the items fleetingly; I’m not really interested, this is just a part-time job, ringing up the sales, filling in time, extra money to pay my rent.
“Excuse me dear… does your supermarket take cards?”
I stare at her blankly for a moment – that voice doesn’t seem to belong to match her appearance at all.
“Of course we do,” I snap back, pushing her items along the counter impatiently. “This is the biggest Chinese supermarket in Los Cristianos, you know… of course we take cards.”
“Oh… alright, I’m sorry.” The woman watches me nervously, wringing her hands together, as I press the buttons on the cash register viciously to ring up the sale. The woman shakes her head from side to side, it could be a nervous twitch, I’m not sure, she gives a silly little laugh and she looks at me with her tired eyes, the wrinkles running down her face to meet the lines around her mouth. “I’m sorry – you must forgive me, I’ve not had much sleep I’m afraid. There’s been… some trouble, or rather, there will be. Though I’m not superstitious, still…”
I stare at her, feeling my crimson lipstick crawling over the scornful curve of my lips.
“What do you mean? What’s happened?”
“Nothing, yet.” Once again, the woman gives a nervous laugh, opening her purse to get her card. The image suddenly stays with me… the shop girl and the customer paying, the grey hair on her head mixing suddenly with the crimson light of my lipstick… the executioner awaits. “But I’m sure… I feel unsafe. There’s a man being stalking me for the past few days… I don’t know what’s going on in his head… but I’m scared. So, you see – that’s why I can’t sleep.”I stare at her, my crimson mouth hanging open. I don’t know what to say; I can see the old English tourist suddenly beside her open-air swimming pool with her husband, at the plastic table with perhaps a cocktail placed upon it. I see the image moving slightly behind my eyes… every second the stalker gets a little closer, the butcher’s knife in his hand gleaming.