Although you stand and stare at the oranges and wish they would choose themselves, they cannot. You go on like everyone else. And although you feel so very alone you are not.
The man on your left holds a cabbage not knowing if this was the kind his wife used to buy.
‘Do I like these ones?’ he whispers.
The confident woman with the beautiful coat and expensive perfume who annoys the shattered young parents by whizzing too fast past the tiny pink baby clothes in case she breaks down and cries for the children she never had.
No… You are not alone.
But you never tell. They never tell. Strangers with trolleys and their other lives – dodging and ignoring, choosing and organising the life they are left with, such as it is. Sleepless nights, big empty beds, screaming babies, no babies, never any love, too much of the wrong kind of love, too much to do, nothing to do. Just coping… not coping. Pretending.
Of course, you tell yourself, you have suffered the most, no one hurts like you, they all have it so easy, more money, more support, more years, better health and you were unlucky.
On the other hand, who would you swap with? Who would you be if you could?
When you look at the man with the cabbage – do you want his despair? His beautiful cottage by the sea with the half-papered wall where his wife collapsed?
Do you want the children who never sleep and a marriage that cannot cope?
The wealth of a woman whose womb didn’t work and the husband who will work until his heart gives in?
Alternatively you can dress all in black, drive a mobility scooter, a wheelchair, pull a trolley carrying oxygen behind you. Wear a badge that says: “I hurt. Look at me. Do you care?”
However, the chocolate and the TV and the big blue sky and the baby in the buggy from a party who is telling his mother he sees a dog and the man who offers to take your trolley back for you and your favourite song on the radio when you get in the car and … a memory. A good memory. Things that mysteriously push at the back of your throat and awaken your spirits, keep the living just good enough…
Still. Just the same. Making do.
(This was a bit of a freewrite – of sorts. I gave myself the challenge of writing something that had paragraphs beginning with Although, But, Of course, On the other hand, Alternatively, However and Still.
I know you are not supposed to begin a paragraph with ‘But’, but I like breaking rules!)