Michael Gray Griffith
Date of Birth: 8/3/66
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Publications: Stirring V1:E3, V2:E1
DEATH IN A SUPERMARKET
'A woman died in the supermarket today.’ From this part of the kitchen table she could see the back of the lounge chair and the TV. The TV was on . . . soccer.
She decided to remain silent and keep preparing dinner. Five minute noodles with a few stock vegetables added, but the story was too big for her mouth and continued to fall out.
‘She was an old woman. She wasn't young. I’d say she was in her seventies or eighties at least . . . Yea she must have been, because her face and hands were all wrinkled and she was wearing one of those dark floral dresses like Mavis wears, you know the type . . . You know come to think of it, her petticoat was too big too. I saw it dropping below her hem while she was still walking around. I always notice things like that. I don’t know why.’
She thought for a while as she added the noodles to the boiling water where the chopped carrots and few flowers of broccoli were turbulent in the bubbles.
You know, I bet you she lived by herself . . . Yea I bet she did, cause if she was married her husband would have told her petticoat was showing. I mean she would have asked him to check, a women would, we do those sort of things. We do. I couldn't stand not knowing my petticoat was showing. ’The steam rose before her, and the football commentators called excitedly, behind.
‘Actually, come to think of it, her makeup was all wrong too. She had too much lipstick on, it was all over her face you know. She wouldn’t have liked to go out knowing she looked like that. No woman would, they wouldn’t. Well I wouldn’t. I’d feel a real idiot. I would.’
She broke from these distant, analytical thoughts, to check the noodles. They were ready. As she switched the gas off, the noodles began to matt upon the top of the stilling water. Automatically, mechanically she served it out.
‘She just died. Just like that. Right in front of the tomatoes. They were on special; two dollars a kilo. She had a bag of them in her hand . . .That’s a good price for tomatoes. They’ve been expensive lately. I think I paid four dollars last week, and they weren’t even that nice. I shouldn’t buy them from there, I shouldn’t, they’re always more expensive. Its just so convenient that’s all.’
Space took her eyesight for a while as tomatoes turned back into a face. ‘It must have been a heart attack or a stroke or something, cause she was convulsing on the floor, almost like someone was giving her an electric shock. It was awful, it really was.
She was only a small . . . Tiny . . . If I hadn’t had my glasses on I probably would have mistaken her for a little girl. . .You know, the strange thing was I don’t think she even made a sound. Oh well of course she might have made a gasp or something when she fell, but I wasn’t close enough to hear then . . . She’d have to have make some sound though, wouldn’t she? I mean she was dying?’
She ate some of the noodles, then stirred the remainder as though twisting backwards the slow reel of a movie projector.
‘I’d hate to die alone like that. It’d be awful wouldn’t it? I mean we where there of course, one nice young girl even gave her that mouth to mouth stuff, but I mean that’s not like knowing someone is it? I don’t think anyone there even knew her name.’
A goal was scored. She looked up to the cheer.
‘No, no I wouldn’t want to die like that . . . Who would?’
She returned from the TV to continue to stir the noodles until they were cold. Then blinking her way back to the kitchen, rose, with effort, and placed the rest of dinner into the fridge for tomorrow.
‘She’s probably in heaven now, talking to God. Poor luv,’ she said, closing the fridge's door to check the kitchen before moving out into the lounge.
‘Oh they’re not losing again are they? That twice now. Well they’ll have to pick there game up if they want to stay in the eight. They will,’ she said, switching off the TV and then the lights and heading to bed.
By the time she’d reached the hallway, the house had gone quiet about her. It was her day in the Op-shop tomorrow, and she was wondering about taking something in order to sleep as she wasn’t really tired at all.