Paths More Travelled

Entry by: Drew Hazell

22nd September 2017

‘Beep…beep…beep…’ will it ever end thought Sheeren scanning the items on the conveyor belt. This shift was really dragging.
“Any carriers love?” said shereen chewing her gum.The well kept lady, stood in front of her in her long buttoned up beige duffle coat and perfect make up.Mutton dressed as lamb, or a madame trying to look like a little hooker, her nan would have said.
The lady held up a bag for life that she had brought with her and pointed at it with her perfectly manicured hand. The bag was the brown one with the picture of the world on it. Should have guessed. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a posh one! They always had their world-saving recycle bags then got in their gas guzzling four by fours.
The lady scooped up all her fresh produce mostly vegetables and fruit and placed them carefully into the bag.
Sheeren looked quickly around to see if her manager Cindy was lurking anywhere. All that woman ever did was nag nag nag. Do this! This isn't right! You're late!
When she was sure she was sure there was no one in sight she pulled her phone out of her overall.
Depriving people of their social media accounts and phones was basically a human rights violation. Some nut could be shooting up a block away and half the world would know while she was sat there ringing tills. Everyone knew who won the last big brother before her. If there was a hell It would be sitting there for all eternity with a phone you could not use.
She looked down at her mobile - thirteen missed calls! She felt a little tickle in her stomach and a little smirk cross her face. Her and Daz had gotten into a huge argument last night. She’d ignored him all day. She loved her man.She loved him like crazy and she loved making him crazy sometimes too. Her moods had been all over the place recently. At least now she knew why.
“Erm excuse me. I'm collecting the vouchers. You know the ones for the schools,” said the lady.
Sheeren looked up and shot the woman an angry look for interrupting her. She held up the phone to emphasize she was in the middle of something. The woman scowled, picked up her bag for life and trotted off.
Daz was the reason why she had taken the job. When school had ended all her mates had gone off to university or different colleges. Her and Daz were going to travel the world. They had it all planned. They were planning to leave for Thailand in three months. The full moon party in Thailand, trekking through India. The pyramids, the statue of liberty. She couldn't wait to ride an elephant and swim with dolphins. She cleaned the bogs at her aunties pub in the morning and did the night shifts at the supermarkets. She wasn't proud. A job was a job. Now all that would have to be put on the back burner. She’d wait until the little one was about two then they'd go traveling. It would all be fine.
A blond girl with a side ponytail put down a pile of magazines on the checkout. Yes! Sheeren hadn't read this week's heat magazine. She had a quick flick through the magazine stopping to read an article on her favorite reality T.V stars break up.
“Knew he was a cheater. I said, he’s a cheater.” Shereen held up the magazine to the waiting girl who nodded. Sheeren had a quick look at her horoscope before scanning the magazine then picking up the next one. Brides monthly Sheeren started hungrily looking through the pages. Her and Daz had spoken about their wedding at length. She was having twelve bridesmaids. Her Best mates. They'd all been tight since primary.
“You getting hitched?” The girl's face changed from mildly impatient to beaming with pride.
“Next summer,
“C.mon,” boomed Shereen.”Show me the bling!” The girl held out her slender hand with a rock of a diamond on it. “Girl that's huge! Bet he's got a small one.” Sheeren burst into laughter she had a big holler of a laugh and her whole body shook. The girl gave Sheeren a weak smile as she left.
She and Daz had been together for four years. They'd met at an all-night Halloween rave in Clapham. He was dressed as a giant condom. She had thought he was a complete idiot when he'd tried chatting her up. She still thought he was a complete idiot.But he was her idiot. Her nan didn't like him at first, she thought his eyes were too close together and she didn't think real men wore jeans as tight as he did.
She realized she was smiling like a lunatic when a clatter of a customer's basket shook her out of her thoughts.
Tall man in his fifties, cheap suit, beard. We have loner! A string of ready meals and a load of pet food she guessed. She took out the frozen ready meals and scanned them in procession. Then the bulk buys of toothpaste and shampoo and toilet rolls on offer. Then cat food. She knew it! Crazy cat ladies had a bad rap. There were just as many crazy cat men.
“37 quid mate,” she said blowing a bubble with her chewing gum. He took out two crisp twenty-pound notes out of his wallet and she snatched them out of his hand just as she caught sight of
Cindy again making her regular patrols up and down the checkouts.
“Had a nice night sir?” She said brightly her demeanor changing immediately. The man looked slightly confused as she handed his change back politely.
‘’Have a nice night.”
“Everything ok my love.” Called Cindy.
“All good hun.Quiet” They both gave each other the biggest faked smiles they could muster.
Sheeren imagined banging her head repeatedly into the conveyor belt. It Helped sometimes.Sheeren was on her final warning for using her phone in work. If she was caught one more time she'd be out the door.
When Cindy was out of sight Shereen plucked out her phone again. Three texts.
‘Babe I'm sorry!’ ‘STOP IGNORING ME!!!!!’ ‘Sorry I didn't mean to lose my temper. I want to hear your voice.’
Her finger hovered over reply when she saw another man approach her checkout station. She put the phone away and rolled her eyes. Never get two minutes peace in this place!
The six-foot hunk of a man stood in a pair of shorts and vest in November. Here, ladies and gentleman, we have the bodybuilder. Always after the gym sessions at 6 pm or late ones like this. The gym bunnies. Trollies full of meats and health foods. Oh and strawberry ice cream. He has a girlfriend
“Busy shift?”He said warmly his biceps bulging as he picked each thing out of the trolley.
“How are things in Hawaii?” she erupted with laughter again.
He looked down at his unseasonal clothes. “Caning the gym. Get so lazy in the winter months. Bored and restless.”

“That's what X Factor and Dominoes are for mate.” She giggled to herself sliding his items down the conveyor belt .”22.95”
“Keep the change. Night.”
She heard her phone buzz again. She quickly looked around and took out her phone. A text off nan.
Sheeren had given up trying to explain that in text speak capitals meant you were screaming.
She clicked on her Facebook app and scrolled through quickly. She pressed the top of the phone then put it back into her pinafore. Then changed her attention back to her customer.
A young girl, younger than Sheeren had been stood behind the man.They both lived on the same estate the girl had three little ones.
“Alright?” said the scraggly girl the giant puffer jacket she was wearing making her her seem even more smaller.
Sheeren picked up the Four pinter of milk and scanned it and noticed the two packs of nappies stuffed into each side of her jacket.
“A quid love.”
The girl handed her a pound and smiled weakly, “Bye.”
Shereen watched her walk slowly towards the entrance, the security guard wasn't there and the bleepers might not go off. She let out a sigh of relief when girl disappeared through the sliding doors with no fuss.
Two nights before Sheeren had taken down a drunk man trying to steal four cans of cider. Growing up on the estate she had, her nan had told always told her how ever big or mean or nasty they are they’re balls hurt all the same. The shoplifter came running towards the entrance and shereen had kicked him straight in the unmentionables. Down he went. Some people wanted to steal, some people needed to steal. The girl had three kiddies and nobody else.
Her and Daz had both wanted kids. Daz wanted four. He was one of six. It had always been just her and her nan. Cancer had stolen her father and alcoholism had stolen her mother. People had worser lives she told herself. Life is for the living her nan would shout dancing round the living room, half cut swinging round her glass of Gin.
Her and Daz had come to a compromise of two kids. What would be a three minute job for him would be a nine month job for her. That sounded well unfair.
She imagined them strolling on Sunday mornings to the park, the autumn leaves blowing around the buggy. Then in the summer, lying in the sun in Low Heath little Ikeam laying on a picnic blanket gurgling, the park alive and buzzing around them, people stopping to tell them how beautiful he was, asking his name.
Shereen pulled out her mobile again and slowly scrolled through Facebook then Twitter like anything earth shattering had happened in the minutes since she last checked.
She got up the text screen and was about to arrange to meet him after work when a voice in front of her interrupted.
‘Ya got change for twenty quid?”
Sheeren clicked open the til pondering over Daz not really thinking.
‘Give me the money. Everything. Now. Leave it open stand the fuck back!!!”
“Wow mate chill.”Sheeren felt her stomach drop. The lanky boy stood in front of her baseball cap pulled down, jacket zipped up and he was holding a knife.She’d seen enough junkies in her time to know this boy was off his head. He was trembling all over. Idiot thought Sheeren. He’ll be crying for his mummy in a police cell in twenty minutes.
“Look mate chill yeah. Take whatever you want. You should see my payslip. I get mugged every month.” She held her hands up and realized her mobile phone was on the her seat. Shereen heard the click clacking of cindy's heals followed by derek the beefy security guard
The boy really looked on edge now his head swinging from person to person, his hand quivering, holding onto the knife.
“The police are already on they way mate.” Called Derek calmly. “Just put the knife away.”
The scraggly looking boy looked at Derek for a moment. Sheeren kept her eye on the mobile phone on the seat. Waiting for the perfect moment to grab it. She lunged forward causing the boy to dive at her.
The knife went straight into her. The boy looked down in horror and despair at his blood filled hands.
With one plunge of a knife, a lifetime of love and pain, joy and heartache, and tears and laughter were wiped out in an instant.