Sunday 15 November 2020

Do You Need?



by Hannah Retallick

creamy milk


Julie clamped two packs of nine under her arms and carried them from door to door. The first person, an elderly man who lived at No.4, didn’t need any – said he’d stocked up once the panic buying had ended and the shelves were full again.

            ‘Me too,’ said Julie, not wanting him to think she was one of ‘those’ people. ‘Okay, then, goodbye.’

            ‘Thank you for being so considerate, love.’ The bushy-chinned man smiled as he closed the door.

            Julie was selling them for 30p each – the amount her mother had paid for them – to help anyone who was stuck without, which had happened the first time. Julie had been sure that there would be more lockdowns – her friends told her she was being silly, but she’d proven them wrong.

            No.6 took a while to appear and opened the door slowly, peering around it. The woman was wearing a fluffy white dressing gown and she had scraggly wavy hair, with grey chasing blonde to past her shoulders.

            ‘Yes?’ she said, rubbing her eyes, which looked wet and sore.

            Julie was standing right back, as her mum had advised her, the mask protecting her from both Covid-19 and the biting winter wind. ‘Hello. Do you need any?’

            ‘Oh, err.’ She paused. ‘Err, yes, I do actually. I’m on my last roll. Tesco’s all out.’

            Julie fumbled with her thick red woollen gloves and finally managed to tear open a pack. ‘How many?’

‘Three.’ As she stretched out of her doorway to take them, she said, ‘This could be the best thing that’s happened to me all year.’

            Julie believed her. ‘There you go.’

            ‘Merry Christmas, beautiful.’ She gripped the three rolls in one hand. ‘You’re an angel.’

Julie had forgotten to say that they were for sale and not for free. She didn’t have the heart to tell the woman – and after a moment of reflection, she found she didn’t want to. It was only 90p, after all, and they had given such happiness. Julie would ask her mum to take it out of her pocket money.

About the author  

Hannah Retallick is a twenty-six-year-old from Anglesey, North Wales. She was home educated and then studied Creative Writing with the Open University. She was shortlisted in the Writing Awards at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2019, the Cambridge Short Story Prize, and the Bedford International Writing Competition.



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