Runcible Spoon

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ASSISTANCE NEEDED

 

They're big on rapid throughput here:

the staff know they're being watched,

 

so it's fair to say that, just right now,

the checkout operator's smile

— while usable — has passed

its recommended Best Before.

 

The problem's you.

 

It's not like last week, when you put

the card in backwards ‒ that was easy ‒

 

nor those other times you've had to

punch your PIN in more than once.

 

It's not that you've forgotten

what the bastard number is:

you use the fucker every other day.

 

It's the keypad. You can't see it

because ‒ without any warning

on this Special Offer Thursday ‒

your eyes have started filling up.

 

Leaking down your face.

 

And you stand there, raiding pockets

on the offchance there's a tissue

'til, abandoning all hope (and

with it, anything like dignity),

you cut your losses: go for

fists-in-shirt-cuffs like a kid.

 

It gets the job done, mind. Besides,

by now you're long past caring ‒ so

it comes as some surprise to find,

in palming your receipt, that she's

gone all existential on your ass.

 

You look blank.  She sighs, repeats ‒

in the special voice reserved for the

slow-witted and infirm:

'Did...you...find...everything...you...need, today?'

 

'Yes thanks,' you tell her, knowing it’s a lie

 

cos the one thing you do need,

they never have here:

 

someone to hold you while you howl

and not let go until the howling's done.