'Stuff' by SJI Holliday


The first time I did it, I was buzzing the whole day. I couldn’t even eat my tea, and when my mum asked me what was wrong I just told her I had tummy ache, then I went upstairs and sat on my bed and laughed.

Pretty good for a first time. A duo eye-shadow called “Blue mist”: two small squares of powder - one baby blue and the other navy. A tube of lipstick called “Hazel shimmer”. A purpley-brown with little bits of glitter trapped inside. I sat in front of my mirror and put it on; then I had to wipe it all off because it was all wonky from my wobbly hands.

The next time was easier, but the buzz didn’t last so long. I went down Tesco’s and stuffed a packet of prawns in each pocket. When I got home I shoved them to the back of the fridge. We had a prawn stir-fry for tea that night and my dad saidwhere’s the prawns from? and mum just said they were buy-one-get-one-free.

After that, I brought home a never-ending stream of crap, like the things off the conveyor belt from The Generation Game. Sometimes it was food, like cling-film wrapped cheese or individual cakes or packets of sausages. Things that would slip easily into the deep side-pockets of my winter coat. When I went down Superdrug it was usually make-up, or sometimes bunches of hair bands or, if I was feeling brave, some of them metal hair clips with the flowers stuck on.

*

The day I get caught I’m pushing it, even for me. I have lunch with my dad; half his tuna sandwich on the wall outside his work. I kiss him bye then I go in the shop; pick up a box of cornflakes from the special offer aisle. They’re bashed at the top, and I just flatten them a bit further and stuff them up my jumper; keep my coat buttoned up tight.

I’m on my way out, head-down, feeling the buzz of the early days, when some woman with a pram bumps into me and sends me crashing into a magazine stand, going sorry sorry as she hurries away. A security guard appears, tries to help me up, even though I’m going no, I’m fine, I’m fine and then the bashed cornflakes slide out of the bottom of my coat. And he just stares at me. I stare back. When he tells me to empty my pockets, I give him the wet box of fish fingers and the tub of lukewarm cream cheese that I stashed in there before lunch. Then I stare down at my feet at all the spilt cornflakes on the floor.

Then I’m being dragged out by the scruff off the neck while the security guard goes to his mate, no its alright Tony, I’ve got this one, and I say to the security guard, sorry dad; and my dad says nothing.

Comments

  1. Brilliant, really enjoyed that!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Quality, then *that* ending. V. nice.

    ReplyDelete
  3. the piece captures the buzz of shoplifting...surprising ending

    ReplyDelete
  4. Loved this - what a cracking ending! Even without the ending, I would have been satisfied as this really captured for me the mindset of the teenage shoplifter. But to get that little twist on the end - that was cherry on the cake.

    ReplyDelete

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