by Joy Mawby
Saturday. She ticks another day off the calendar. Only two more to go. She’s managed today because she found a battered tin at the back of the cupboard. It didn’t have a label so she had no idea what it was. Lucky! – It was tomato soup. That, the last two eggs and a couple of slices of bread was enough for the girls today. Monday, they’ll be OK because they’ll have breakfast club and school dinners – but tomorrow … She’ll ring Mum, see if she’ll have them round for Sunday dinner.
She leaves a message.
How did it come to this? Well, she knows how. Kev walked out and disappeared. ‘Child Support’ are trying to trace him. She was made redundant from her cleaning job
(they called it rationalisation). God knows, she’s tried hard enough to get more work but can’t and Universal Credit just isn’t enough for the electric, rent, food and clothes for the girls.
Sunday. She’s light-headed as she toasts the end of the loaf for the girls and there’s a bit of jam.
Rings Mum again.
Still no reply.
She leaves another message.
She’ll just have to take the girls round there at dinner time and hope for the best.
‘No point knocking,’ Madge, Mum’s neighbour shouts. ‘She’s in Blackpool with Steve. Surprised she didn’t tell you.’
Evil bitch, she’s not surprised at all. She knows exactly how things are between her and her mum.
‘Where are we going now?’ Becky, seven years old and bored.
‘Supermarket.’ It’s started raining. At least it’ll be dry in there. ‘Put your hood up, Becky.’ She pulls up Amy’s. She’s four and a half and can’t quite manage it.
Bright lights, row on row of shining food, music and the unbearable smell of new bread and roasting chicken. Not many people about. She takes a basket.
‘Can we have some crisps?’
‘Just one between you.’ She’s got enough for that. They choose cheese and onion. The baked beans are on special offer. She picks up a small tin and sees some big potatoes. One would do for both girls
At the till, she sways with faintness but manages to pay and gives the crisps to Becky to share.
Out in the air at last. Deep breath …
A hand on her shoulder. ‘Excuse me madam. Will you come back inside with me. I have reason to believe that you have items in your bag which you have not paid for.’
Clutching the children’s hands, she almost falls over as she turns to face the man.
‘What else can I do? The foodbank isn’t open until Tuesday.’
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