Saturday, 3 March 2012

A little confidence

"I'm nearly out of trust," yelled Mama as Celinio picked up the shopping list from where the magnet held it to the fridge.  "Don't get the cheap stuff either!"
As if! thought Celinio.  She had very intense memories of her mother when she'd run out of trust, and ones almost as bad of her mother on the supermarket's own-brand Economy-trust.  Neither were the kind of memories that she liked thinking about.
"I'll give you money when you come back," yelled her mother, still apparently unwilling to get out of bed and come and talk to Celinio properly.  The walls of the terraced house were too thin, so their neighbours would all be hearing this, and Celinio would have to avoid making eye-contact with them again for a few days.  It was like the time her mother had asked her to pick up a vibrator from the supermarket and wanted to get rather specific about the functions it needed.  Making it worse though was the fact that the supermarket actually stocked vibrators now.
"No problem, Mama!" yelled Celinio, slipping the shopping list into her pocket and almost running out of the house.  Of course, that meant that she nearly collided with Mr. Ventruvo from next door, who was also leaving, and trying to hide the smile on his face.  Celinio wished fervently that the ground would open up and swallow her, and when that didn't happen muttered an apology, scooted around him, and ran off.
When she got to the supermarket it was still quiet, too early on a Saturday morning for anyone but the people who didn't like trying to shop in crowds, or those like her, who had embarrassing things to pick up on their shopping list.  Like depilatory cream for sensitive areas, haemorrhoid ointment (in bulk), forty cans of economy baked beans and a six-week supply of trust.  Celinio stared at the list, knowing that her mother had put all of these things on there because she didn't want the embarrassment of buying them herself.  She sighed, and walked over to the emotion aisle.
Trust was up at the start, in little silver tins.  It came in powder form, with a tiny little measuring spoon, and you sniffed a measure at the start of every day like snuff and it boosted your own natural levels of trust.  You had to be careful with it, as with too much you'd believe anything anyone told you, and for the same reason you had to have a prescription to buy anything larger than a two-dose spray that worked like a nasal decongestant.  Celinio had her mother's prescription with her, and the doctor always highlighted the words paranoid schizophrenic in pink.  As if the size of the trust she had to buy wasn't embarrassing enough.
After trust were the little tins of sensitivity, the jars of delight, the family-sized packs of contentment and the pillow-size bundles of joy.  Then, at the end of the aisle where it wasn't so well lit were the little tiny bottles of courage, fear, arrogance, jocularity, anger and love; all the volatile emotions with the high price tags.  They all required in-shop background checks before you were allowed to buy them, and usually they ran the check before you could even get them off the shelf because they hid them behind toughened glass.
Celinio picked up her mother's trust, and then sighed a little, and moved down to the far end.  There, next to the lust tincture, was confidence.  She opened her mother's prescription and checked it again.  The list of things it would allow her to buy included confidence, narcissism and rascality, though why the latter two she wasn't sure.  Something to do with balancing side effects, she suspected.
She stood there for eighteen minutes, trying to find the confidence to ask an assistant for confidence, caught by the irony of her plight but still unable to tip the balance enough to actually ask for what she wanted.  Finally an assistant came over, trailed by a store detective, and asked her what she was doing, in tones that suggested he thought she was planning on breaking open the glass.  Celinio pointed at the prescription and the word confidence, and the assistant's face suddenly softened.  He waved the store detective away and ran the prescription through a hand-held scanner.  It beeped, once, and a green light flashed on, and he produced a complicated looking key with two handles and unlocked the shelf.  As he took the vial out, he hesitated, and then uncapped it and offered it to her.
"A quick sniff?" he suggested, and she made herself lean forward and breathe in.
It smelt like oranges, and as she swallowed it tasted like lemon meringue pie.  She was about to smile and thank him when suddenly she felt much lighter and stronger.  She straightened up, smiled at him brilliantly, and held her hand out.
"Thank-you so much," she said, her voice low and alluring.  Inside her head the person she thought she was was staring out through her eyes, shocked and voiceless.  "Your help is indispensible.  I have a list of items here, all for my lazy-bones mother who enjoys making life a misery for people.  Could you help me find them, please?"  She handed her list to the assistant, who read it with pursed lips, and ignored the Celinio behind her eyes who was howling in horror at the thought of showing the list to anyone.
"Sure," he said, smiling back.  He looked a little nervous himself, she thought.  "Your mother's quite the joker, isn't she?"
"Oh yes," said Celinio,  "What do you think we could add to this list to get revenge?"

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