Here’s another excerpt of my new romcom – this one is from chapter two.
The title of the book is now Little Mishaps and Big Surprises. I hope you enjoy this one…
Excerpt from Chapter Two
The M&S food hall is surprisingly empty but I suppose the usual office workers aren’t in here today getting their lunch. Most of the Christmas food has been reduced, which is great for me, I buy a few lovely things I didn’t get before Christmas. But, I cannot find the yummy little chocolate puddings so have to settle for a rather large cheesecake, and cream.
Unlike the food, the wine has not been reduced and when I’ve finished, the fifty pounds Yan gave me isn’t quite enough, I have to add another four pounds. I’ll let him off that.
‘Don’t look at me like that,’ a woman’s voice says as I fumble my goodies into my bags-for-life. I take no notice as I know she isn’t speaking to me and I carry on packing.
‘I said, don’t look at me like that.’ The voice is louder this time and, though her English is good, her accent is more pronounced: Eastern European. Possibly Polish; I work with several Polish people and this woman sounds quite like them.
I’m tempted to look up but her tone is so belligerent that I really don’t want to provoke her. I’ve learned it’s best to keep your head down and walk away in these situations.
‘Hey you,’ she calls again. ‘I know who you are. I know where you live.’
Around me there’s a palpable silence, so, probably like everyone else at the tills, I chance a glance.
She’s staring at me. Right at me and she’s taking steps towards me. Aside from her shouting she looks respectable, she’s early thirties, nicely dressed in smart jeans and warm jacket and she’s carrying an expensive handbag. Very expensive. Her hairstyle suggests she is high maintenance. She’s also very slim and manicured – she’s pointing one purple tipped finger at me.
I should run, I should grab my bags and run.
The purple finger jabs the air in my direction.
I should run, abandon my bags and run.
Nobody else speaks. Not even the check-out operator to whom I have just handed over fifty-four pounds. Sod M&S loyalty points, where is a security guard when you need one?
‘Yes, you,’ she yells again.
Will no one come to my rescue?
‘I don’t know what the fuck he wants in you. Look at you. Big lump.’
Help. I’m frozen to the spot, my fingers clutching my shopping bags which are still resting on the checkout conveyor.
She staggers closer, then closer still.
I smell the familiar perfume of gin on her breath. It’s only twelve-thirty; she must have been at it some time to be this drunk.
She starts to speak and jabs her finger in front of my nose between every word.
‘Don’t,’ jab, ‘you,’ jab, ‘think’, jab…
‘Everything all right, madam?’ A deep voice cuts across her jabbing. A security guard. Hurray. Thank you, M&S, I knew I could rely on you.
I open my mouth to speak but the Eastern European beats me to it.
‘I’m just sorting her. I’m telling her she can’t take a husband and live with it,’ she says, her accent getting stronger with every word.
The guard looks at me.
I shrug. I shake my head. Why should I have to explain myself?
‘Well, keep it down please, madam.’ He offers her a smile.
‘Are you telling me what to do? Who the fuck is you?’
‘What’s your name? What’s your fucking name? I will report you.’
I should take the opportunity now and go, get out while I can.
‘Hey,’ I say, trying to diffuse the situation. ‘I don’t know your husband. You’ve got the wrong person.’
She turns her attention back to me; a look of relief passes over the security guard’s face.
‘Well, you would say that, wouldn’t you? Fucking dog.’ Her eyes, and their fake eyelashes, sweep over me as her mouth twists into an ugly shape.
Another step towards me, her head tilted up towards my face and I’m breathing her exhaled gin.
The guard is on his radio but I cannot hear what he’s saying. I’m thinking, hoping, praying that soon this will be over and I will be out of here and on my way home.
‘Fucking dog,’ she yells again.
Then she vomits all over me. It misses my face but only because she’s shorter than me and her head has dropped down, but her vomit covers my coat and my boots.
I find myself gagging at the smell of it.
She falls to the floor, knocking her face against the side of the conveyor best as she falls, her purple-tipped fingers twitching in the air.
The check-out operator rips off several sheets of blue paper roll and thrusts it at me. I attempt to wipe myself down.
Another security guard appears, quickly followed by a first aider. They’re soon calling an ambulance.
I know I should stay. I know they will want me to tell them what happened for their accident book, but I don’t want to get involved. I don’t want to stand here in my vom-covered coat stinking and gagging.
I take my bags and sneak away while the attention is all on Purple-tips. I justify my escape by convincing myself that there are enough people there to help.
I should have run away in the beginning.
Please excuse any errors, typos etc, and remember to come back soon for another excerpt.