by Lizzie Martell
Sitting in the toilet paper aisle on the floor of a supermarket with my head resting against a 9-roll pack of Andrex, I realise I’ve hit rock bottom.
Well, at least I’m in the right place, I think, opening up a box of Kleenex and blowing my nose. I know my eyes are red, my cheeks a pale blotchy pink. I know I’m crying in a supermarket, I know people are staring.
I don’t care.
I’m letting it out.
Isn’t that what everyone says to do? Let it all out, don’t bottle everything up.
I look down at the laminate floor of the supermarket. I like the way it glitters under the superficial strip lighting. I move my head to the left, then back to the right again, squinting until the sparkles soften and blur into a single glassy tear that runs away with itself and surprises me.
I’m probably not fine, I think as I take another tissue from the box. I say it really quietly in my mind- almost whispering the thought.
It’s a fairly significant moment, considering I’m in a supermarket surrounded by toilet rolls. I take a short, sharp breath that sounds a little like a hiccup.
Perhaps spontaneous crying isn’t normal. Maybe they were right.
The aisle is clear, everything has gone quiet.
I bet they’re all avoiding me. Like when someone drops a jam jar or bottle of red wine on the floor. Everyone clears off sharpish, leaving a sad mess amongst shards of glass, staining with a dark disillusionment; those dreams of being so much more splattered up discount signs and shelving units.
I peer up the aisle.
I half expect someone to walk down with a mop and bucket. Holding one of those yellow slippery surface signs tucked under their arm to put up around me.
But no one comes.
The shelves across the aisle seem to loom over me. I feel suddenly small. My eyes flick up to the rows upon rows of branded cleaning products. The bright gaudy colours and cheap labels that scream for my attention.
I look at them all; naming, shaming, blaming.
My heart palpitates. A roll of nausea sweeps from my chest, teetering on the tip of my tongue.
I hiss out the letters slowly, my tongue releasing the tension, like air escaping from the neck of a too-puffed-up balloon. For a moment, I revel in that tiny bit of control.
It’s ok. I’m fine.
I wipe the hair that has stuck to my forehead with the back of a clammy hand; it comforts me slightly. I close my eyes, rising to my feet. I will myself not to cry.
Lizzie Martell lives in the big smoke of London in a tiny pokey flat with the love of her life and her little black cat.