BOOK DETAILS

gates of hellWhy would any sane person willingly insert themselves in a shopping mall on the busiest day of the shopping year? People are tired, hung over, cranky, desperate. And yet, that’s exactly what I and thousands of other people have chosen to do today.

Maybe you’re shopping right now? Fighting your way through the crowds for that boxing day bargain.

In truth, the only reason I’m here, is because my twelve year old daughter begged me to take her and her friend to the shopping day sales. And God knows the only way I can survive, is to sit in the food court with my laptop, a big plate of food and even bigger cup of coffee. The biggest. I didn’t even know they made them that big. (Okay full disclosure. The Christmas cup might have runneth over a wee bit yesterday and I might be just the teeniest tad hung over).

The food court is busy. It’s only 11.07am, but the food lines are obscenely long and growing. I could become agoraphobic in a crowd like this.

I feel my blood pressure rising and take another sip of coffee, tamp down the anxiety. God, I hope there isn’t a fire–there’d be such a mass exodus of people fleeing the building, thousands would die in the crush.

Around me, people are eating, chatting, texting, fighting. The girl at the table next to me is passively aggressively ignoring her dining companion, who I already feel sorry for.

Boxing day sales rage

Our happy couple….not.

“Are you enjoying your meal?”  The guy enquires, sitting down opposite her.

“Hmmph.”

“That’s good,” He chirps. “Maybe we need to feed you, so you won’t be grumpy.”

No response.

“You’re always grumpy all the time.”  Trying-hard-guy (as I’ve come to think of him) says, but she doesn’t look up from her phone.

I sneak a glance at her. You might think he is needling her, but in truth, she does look sullen, and extremely grumpy.

“Are you still grumpy?” He tries again.

The girl, enjoying some real quality time with her phone, doesn’t deign to respond.

Checking his own phone, trying-hard-guy attempts a new topic.  “Mark isn’t answering.  I don’t know where he is.”

Good call Mark, whoever you are. For the love of God, stay away.  Stay as far away as possible.

“Can I get you anything else?”  He ventures.

“No.”  She directs the response at her phone, as if it were offering to grow legs and line up at the food queues for her. He timidly extends a hand and gently fingers the back of her hand.

Darn!  He is the boyfriend!  I feared as much, but hoped for his sake, it wasn’t true.  Dude!  Get out!  I want to yell.   You and Mark, get on the next express bus out of here and never come back!  It’s not too late!

Standing abruptly, sullen girlfriend manages her first two word sentence.  “Let’s go.”

Meekly, the guys stands, gathers her bags and quickly follows her disappearing figure. Another couple immediately replaces them at the table.

Glancing at my watch, I go back to my coffee.  11.12am.  Good God.

Wish me luck.

XXX Alexa