by Jennifer Walmsley
It knocks, banging away in my mind, the one question that has plagued me since yesterday, ‘What if I fail?’
I lie awake in my sleeping bag, rigid with cold. Darkness envelopes me. Other bodies shift. Murmur. Fart. Snore. I’m suffocating on a cushion of navy blue that is covering my face, protecting my chapped lips.
Dawn arrives on a drizzle of icy needles. Tension ripples through my body as I scamble up and out of my uncomfortable bed and note a queue of hard nosed hopefuls behind and in front of me.
I’m longing for a pee and, trying to distact myself from the thought of release, mentally hum, ‘I’m Singing In The Rain,’ but others, having no discretion, release their load of flasked tea and coffee like a stable of raddled horses.
Now a cry goes up and, like a Mexican wave, arms rise with echoing cries of, ‘The doors are opening!’ And, like a herd of wildebeest, we charge towards those doors, bodies pushing, hands shoving as we tumble, stumble into the warmth of Debenhams.
Avoiding the lift and escalators, I charge upstairs to the third floor, hearing others charge after me and, sprinting through to the accessories department, breathlessly I reach my goal.
There it is, the Gucci handbag I’ve yearned for. It hangs just a few feet away. Throwing myself forward, I make a grab for it but another makes a grab for it too. We tussle and, the tall woman, built like a wrestler, yanks at a strap but the bag, unable to withstand such brutal force, rips asunder.
A stunned, silent moment passes. Then with a roar of bereavement, I kick out at my opponment, catching her on the shin and she, in retaliation, with a fake jewelled fist, punches me on the nose.
Jennifer Walmsley was born, brought up and still lives in Wales. She’s had short stories published in women’s magazines, Welsh literary mags and various webzines.