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“Shopping Trip” by Rik Lonsdale

I said I would drop her by the bridge at the bottom of High Street in Gillingham. It was our weekly shopping trip into town, and she had been hankering after a new cushion for her chair. To ease her back, like. So, before I park the car I leave her down by that furniture place, you know, the Suite and Bed Centre.

‘I’ll meet you at our usual coffee place,’ I say.

‘Alright love,’ she says, ‘see you in about an hour.’

Well, I’m a bloke, aren’t I? It never takes an hour to do a bit of shopping, so I’m in the coffee shop ahead of time. I have a coffee and read the free newspaper. Then I have another and read another newspaper. Now she’s late, but no more than usual. I don’t want any more coffee, so I just sit and watch the world go by. Young mums with their tots come in for coffee and stay while the little ones behave. Some people are sat with computers. I don’t know what they are doing. Maybe working? But I don’t know what sort of work that would be.

That sets me to thinking about work. It’s been ten years since I retired, but I can’t say as I miss it much. But it gave us a bit of a pension. Not a lot, but enough to get by on.

But where is she? She’s an hour late now and I’m getting worried. I hope she hasn’t had one of the dizzy spells she’s been getting lately. And she’s always tired. She says she gets dizzy because she’s tired, but I don’t know. I think there’s something wrong. I hope she hasn’t fallen over. She’d be so upset if she embarrassed herself like that in public.

I head down the high street looking for her. I can see a gaggle of folk up ahead and wonder if she’s there, but it’s only kids, admiring a new phone one of them has. I don’t know what all that fuss is about mobile phones, I can’t be bothered with them.

I look in the other cafes in case she’s gone in the wrong one, but she hasn’t. I look in the charity shops too, in case she’s gone looking for a new book, but she isn’t there either. I’m really worried now.

Then I’m at the bottom of High Street and I haven’t seen her. I go in the Gillingham Suite and Bed Centre. It’s my last hope.

‘Can I help you?’ says the lass behind the counter.

‘I don’t think so,’ I say, ‘I’ve lost my wife.’

‘Come with me,’ she says. So I follow her round the displays of furniture. And there she is! She’s fast asleep on one of them recliner things, with her feet up. She looks ever so peaceful.

‘It seemed such a shame to disturb her,’ says the lass.

‘I don’t care how much, we’ll have it,’ I say.




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