He began dreading her appearance. Having travelled for an hour she’d step off the bus and instantly light a rolled up cigarette. Always 8:45. The cigarette was never finished before she reached the shop, so would stand outside, hacking and coughing until it was. The smell would waft in, turning his stomach, and he’d feel like vomiting.
He likened his present life to being a little like eating cod roe when the richness of his previous life had been like eating caviar. He had of course lived many lives, and so also knew that being alive in the 21st century, was as good as he’d ever experienced it. People complained about this and that and it seem the weather was the biggest gripe at the moment. If only they knew how good they had it.
Having finished her ‘fag’ in she walked, still coughing, beginning the usual manic behaviour in an attempt to intimidate. As best he could he ignored her and made a conscious effort to calm himself even more. He rarely looked at her these days and so heard very little of her bile: This was wrong, that was wrong, constant criticism of others. He knew it was criticism by proxy but refused to bite, as he understood who was being paid, a managers wage. At whose door responsibility lay.
Even with the pay, she didn’t actually managed things, and with his refusal to do it for her, the store was a horribly toxic environment. It came as no surprise to him that the paper kids were out of control; abusive and testing. Boundaries collapsing. Just biding his time, about ready to leave.
One of the places he’d worked recently had a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ kind of rule. Christ how the working classes ate shit. It followed that he now applied this to his current situation: one more incident of abuse from the poisonous old hag, and he’d hand her the keys. There was no fear, he simply didn’t care anymore.
He had in mind a meditative journey. A light dome tent, sleeping bag and a thick inflatable mattress, was all he’d carry. He’d walk further into the west country, more weight to lose, without a care in the world. There are adventures to be had and it was always how his next life would start.
In his mind the twisted old hag smoked and burned like the end of her fag; she crumbled into ash and dust as he watched. He remembered what she’d told him: “Oh yeah, cervical cancer after I had James,” wow! How she must have made her only child pay for that. No wonder he became a priest. The guilt buried so deep it’s in the marrow of his bones. Priest James: a guilty child.
Just like his own birth mother having her womb removed altogether. Hysterectomy they’d called it. One way to make sure it never happens again. The only way to rid oneself of that level of guilt, is to die and be born again, again, again.
Such a vile species are we not? Had the old hag come to represent his frightful birth mother now cremated. Probably, but he wasn’t going to switch the blame through analysis anymore. And the thought of breathing in his mothers, now free floating molecules, also made him want to vomit.
He wondered how he’d survive on his own once again. He wondered how long it would be before his faith returned; before he’d see salty rich caviar on his plate once again.