Shopping List Story

Iris Ka-Yan Bakalar | 30/06/2013

By Iris – June 2013
Shopping List – inspired by Sharise’s list
I heaved my shopping onto the kitchen counter with a grunt. “Darling, come help me with the shopping!” I called.
There was no reply. I looked out of the window into our garden, giving myself a second to catch my breath. Perhaps David was working hard in the garage again, fixing up that loose nut in the tyres. I smiled to myself, a sense of warmth glowing inside me. Sweet, strong David, always so attentive to the little details. Leaving the shopping, I skip to the garden. It was June and the roses were in full bloom, beautiful milky peach and starlight blue cascading all down the back fence like some fairytale out of a picture book. I wasn’t sure if David had a favourite flower, but these roses were breath-taking, who could refuse? I plucked several from the bushes, careful not to prick my fingers. Wouldn’t want blood to ruin these beauties, would we? I counted five. Five roses, all of them ready to burst open, their hearts taut with the need to be free.
A loud bang came from the garage door. Bagel, my German Shepherd, began to bark. Perhaps he was becoming agitated. I liked to keep Bagel with David, but sometimes that meant the poor animal got stuck in one place for too long!
I returned to the kitchen, placed the flowers in water. I began to organise my day’s shopping: sunflower seeds for roasting with the eggplant, put to one side ready for tonight, the milk into the fridge.
As I was about to put my new packet of dog treats away, the doorbell rang. I sighed and went to answer the door.
“Hi, Annette,” I said, plastering a smile across my face.
My neighbour stood there with a lasagne in her hands. “Hey, Stella. I made this just now, thought I’d pop by and give you some. I know how you hate to cook.” She winked.
“I was actually planning on cooking tonight for a change. That lasagne, however, looks delicious.”
“You’re cooking tonight? Well that’s different! Take some of this anyway, you never know when you could use some ready-made food.”
“Sure. Give me a second. How much shall I take?”
“As much as you like. I’ve got another one for my family.” She handed the lasagne over to me. “You know, you’re welcome to come have dinner with us any time as well. Tomorrow I’m making creamed potatoes baked with salmon.”
“No, no, Annette. I couldn’t intrude.”
“Hey, I know how hard it is. I didn’t marry my fella til three years ago, and I’m thirty-eight. You think all that time living alone, eating ready-meals with the TV being my only company was easy? We all need company from time to time.”
I forced myself to keep my smile. I wanted to tell her, I’m not alone. Not anymore. I found someone.
But I couldn’t tell her that. David wouldn’t like it.
Pause. I was about to close the door.
“Just one other thing,” Annette said, pushing at the door. I gripped the handle. “Just thought you should know. There’s been some strange noises coming from your garage.”
I arched my eyebrows. “Strange noises?”
Annette nodded. “Yeah, scraping, moaning. I wasn’t sure what it was. Bagel’s been barking all day long. I’m not sure. Is Bagel all right? I haven’t seen him out here for a few days.”
“Bagel’s fine, thank you. I don’t know why he’d be barking and moaning so much.”
“Maybe you should take him to the vet.”
I suppressed a sigh. Nosy, meddlesome neighbours.
“Thank you for your advice. I’m sure Bagel’s fine.”
A metallic bang rang into the air.
Annette jumped. “What was that?”
More barking.
I dismissed her question with a wave of my hand. “Just Bagel. He’s taken a liking to the garage lately.” I indicated the lasagne. “If you don’t mind, perhaps I’ll take the whole thing?”
“Sure, sure, Stella! Go right ahead!” A bright smile lit her face. “Well, I better be going then!”
I closed the door with relief. Hastily I shoved the lasagne into the fridge, but all I wanted to do was break the dish, hurl it across the room and hear that satisfying smash of glass against stone. I didn’t need ready-made food anymore, I didn’t need her pity! I found someone, I’ve found David. I would start cooking, I would cook everyday. David would be a happy man. He wouldn’t know what’d hit him, how he’d managed to be so blessed with a woman like me.
I pocketed the gum and lifted the chocolate bar. It was wrapped in black paper with gold running through it, Carte Noire’s special 80% dark chocolate with caramelised almond pieces. David would be so thrilled. It was his favourite. I know, because I’d seen it in his house, the wrappers scrunched up into shiny tinfoil balls in his bin, and another stash of dark chocolate in his cupboard like a guilty craving. I found other things too, of course. I found his girlfriend’s perfume in his bathroom. I found her bra thrown over his bedpost. I found a magazine of engagement rings hidden in the bottom drawer of his desk.
“You’ll never guess what I got you!” I called into the silence.
I moved out into the lounge, turned on the TV. The five o’clock news was on. Second story item: missing person. David McGill, 34, last seen on his way home from work, taking the tube from Piccadilly. Elise, his girlfriend, sobbed on screen.
A smile curled my lips. She should cry. David was a wonderful man, and he left her.
I left the news on, got up to prepare dinner.
Through the garage door, a weak, rasping moan hung above the broadcast.

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