So Predictable


Another little short story from the archives. Short, sweet, romantic.

Kerry-Anna cast a practiced eye over the small heap on the conveyor belt. She didn’t need to look at the customer to know that the frozen lasagne for one, the bottle of cheap white wine and the expensive tub of cookie dough ice cream belonged to a thirty-something woman with hair all done up and make-up like the Queen. Kerry-Anna didn’t know where they’d all got this idea that they’d meet their future husbands at the checkout queue but she certainly recognised the desperate type when she saw it. Kerry-Anna wouldn’t want the kind of feller you’d find in Waitrose, anyway. She’d met her Wayne down the Roxy two Fridays ago. He knew how to show a girl a good time and it didn’t involve taking her to the supermarket.

“Thirteen pounds forty-three,” Kerry-Anna read from the screen, watching while the woman struggled to open one of the plastic bags. This one had obviously eaten too many lasagne and icecream dinners, judging by the bulge above her waistband. Her roots needed doing too. She scrabbled around in her handbag and pulled out a tatty-looking purse.

“Sorry, how much did you say?”

Kerry-Anna nodded towards the screen. “Thirteen forty-three,” she repeated slowly and elaborately, rolling her eyes.

“Oh. I… Hold on.”

Kerry-Anna sighed loudly and began to examine her fingernails. Pink with green stars. They were all right but they wouldn’t go with her orange top she wanted to wear on Saturday for Gary and Maeve’s party. They’d had some dead gorgeous yellow ones with orange sunrises on. She’d make an appointment tomorrow and surprise Wayne.

“Here.” Lasagne Lady was holding out a tenner. Kerry-Anna could see she had a pile of change in her other hand. Kerry-Anna pouted. She’d always hated maths. And that Christine who was in charge of the tills made a right fuss if they was out, even if it was only a few pence.

Kerry-Anna dumped the change on the counter. “Eleven… twelve… twelve-fifty…seventy…eighty…ninety…thirteen…twenty…five…thirty…three. You’re ten pence short,” she announced, not without a certain smug satisfaction.

“Oh, right. Um, hold on.” The woman began searching in the bottom of her handbag again.

“Let me.” Kerry-Anna looked up in surprise. The man who was waiting in line was holding out a coin towards the woman and smiling. Kerry-Anna checked. Six pack of Carling. Packet of chocolate digestives. Tin of dog food. Oh, and… Kerry-Anna’s eyebrows rose… a frozen curry. For one.

Lasagne Lady looked startled. Then Kerry-Anna watched her lips twitch into the beginnings of a smile and her cheeks turn the faintest of pink.

“It’s only ten pence,” Curry Guy pointed out, smiling back. Not bad-looking, Kerry-Anna decided, considering him critically. Old bloke, of course. At least forty, she’d say, but still fit if you liked that sort of thing. It looked like he had his own hair and all that.

“Thank you.” The woman held out her hand and he put the coin carefully onto her palm, closing her fingers tightly around it.

“You’re welcome.”

Kerry-Anna tutted loudly, holding out her own hand for the money.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Here you are.” Lasagne Lady turned a darker pink and began to pick up her carrier bag clumsily. Her eyes kept flicking back to where Curry Guy was waiting patiently for her to move out of the way.

“D’you want your receipt?” Kerry-Anna asked, holding it out to her.

“Yes, right. Thanks. And thank you,” she said again to the man.

Kerry-Anna raised her eyebrows. Couldn’t the idiot see what a fool she was making of herself? If she was really interested, why didn’t she just ask the guy out? That’s what Kerry-Anna did when she saw a bloke she fancied. She’d seen Wayne dancing with some other bird and decided she liked the way his hips rolled, so she’d just gone over and cut in. He hadn’t seemed to mind. He’d been snogging her by the end of the first song.

“My pleasure.” The poor bloke was embarrassed now. He was probably worrying that he’d got himself a stalker. She looked like she could be that type.

Kerry-Anna scanned his shopping and swiped his card. “Check the amount and put your number in.”

“There you go.”

“Your card and your receipt.”

He pushed them into his back pocket and lifted his bag. That woman was still hanging around. God, look at them both waiting for the other one to go first. He didn’t seem to know how to open his mouth and she couldn’t even walk in a straight line without running into a trolley. Unless that was the plan, ’cause he was pushing the trolley out of the way now and asking if she was okay.

Kerry-Anna had her mobile phone out and was texting Wayne. “Where r u?”

She watched the stupid woman nodding and saying she was fine. Then the guy put his hand on her elbow and turned away slightly so that Kerry-Anna couldn’t see what he was saying now.

“Wnt 2 come ovr 2nite?” she wrote.

The woman was laughing. They’d stopped right in the middle of the aisle so all the other customers were having to walk round them to get out.

“Letz gt drunk & gt laid. U up 4 it?”

She noticed the man shifting his shopping into his other hand. The woman paused, then did the same.

Wayne never held Kerry-Anna’s hand. He said that kind of thing was soft. Kerry-Anna looked at the couple, smiling nervously at each other and supposed that one day, when she was old like them, she might enjoy it too.

Another customer started unloading her basket. Kerry-Anna quickly pressed Send, then looked to see what was coming. A small bottle of Baileys, a bag of salad and a Chicken Kiev. So predictable.