Teasmade, UK 2005 © Tanya Clarke

Teasmade, UK 2005 © Tanya Clarke

Writing Prompt No. 54

A hand flew up in front of Daphne’s face as she stood looking along the line of machines that made hot drinks.

Cappuccino. Espresso. Filter. Hot chocolate. Tea. Where was tea? The hand belonged to a woman with yellow teeth and breath to match. An unlit cigarette dangled between her lips.

“Rodge. This one. This is the one she wants.” She tugged at the box putting her other hand underneath to steady it as she pulled. The muscles in Daphne’s whole body tightened. The tang of stale cigarette smoke flicked around her head with the woman’s hair. Daphne tutted and moved away two steps to her right. The woman turned her head towards her.

“You work here?” she said.

“Of course not.” Daphne ruffled at the concept. Of course, she didn’t. Not in a retail superstore. “I’m shopping for my mother,” she said.

“Me too.” Said the woman a smile illuminating her face. “How old’s yours?”

“92,” said Daphne before she realised what she was saying. She did not. DID NOT want to engage in conversation with this woman.

“My mum’s 90 in three days.” Said the woman with a sigh. “Where’s Rodge?”

Where is he indeed? thought Daphne. He could at least appear and relieve me of this awfulness.

“What d’you think? Digital or hands?” The woman was holding the box, the one that Daphne had her eyes on.

“Umm…” said Daphne unwilling to choose.

“I’m going hands. Proper clock face. She can’t see anyway so I’m not sure why it matters.” The woman clasped the box under her arm. “Thanks for your help,” she said as she walked away.

Daphne’s smile was thin and weak. She breathed in and out with relief.

“Right,” she said to herself. “Teasmade…clock face…£29.99…” she stopped. The shelf was empty. The woman had taken the last one.

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