The Shopper (Part 2. Not much left to read..) New edit
It was nothing. A film of static and streaked images. The woman waited in vain for something to see, for something to make sense. It was definitely time to go and she started to collect up her things. She found the child had been in her bag while she had been looking at the screen. Her bits and bobs were scattered everywhere. Some were sliding into the sagging dark spaces of the sofa. The woman's hands, panicky now, scrabbled at the rolling bits, indiscriminately clutching at handfuls of this and that, and stuffing them into her bag. The screen sent skittering stabs of light and sound over the floor. She couldn't see what was what, or how far things had got away. As fast as the woman put things into her bag, the child was taking them out again and letting them go. She thought, that out of the corner of her eye, she saw her family in those shattered images on the screen.
'Let me help you' The son's beast-like paws were touching the things and picking them up, disappearing them like handfuls of dust in his heavy fingers. The woman knew she had to give up. If she stayed here trying to reclaim all her possessions, then she'd never leave. She knew she'd have to abandon them. She stood, with a surge of energy she didn't know she had.
'You can't leave yet. You haven't chosen anything,' said the stranger.
The woman stiffened. The stranger in her shadow hat, the solid unmoving son, the watery faced child, they all held her in their gaze.
'I'll take that' the woman said, pointing to a listless velvet bags on the wall, the nearest thing. There was a smile and the hat tilted up, eyes gleamed.
'And then I must go,' she said 'I've taken up too much of your time.'
'You've been no trouble.'
Would she really be allowed to go so easily? No one moved. The woman didn't want to touch the bag.
'How much is the bag?'
'Free. Go on, it's yours.'
'Oh I can't just take it. Let me get my purse'
The woman pushed both hands down inside her old handbag. There was no hope of finding her purse. There seemed to be triple the amount of things she'd come out with. Things she didn't recognise but were sure were hers nonetheless. As she searched, pointlessly turning things over and over, she planned . She had come to the conclusion a polite exit was not going to be possible. Once the woman had told herself this, she felt calmer. Now she knew this was a nightmare, she was free to act with desperation. She swung her bag of many things like a club. There was a crack, a connection, the bag breaking open, contents spilling. The woman was already fleeing, wrenching open the door. A howling behind her. But she was through and leaning hard on the door to shut it. Her hands frantic at the bolt, trying to keep the things inside. Fingers stretched around the edges of the door, grasping and curling. She couldn't close the gap. The fingers were like hooks. She pushed with all she had, but the hooks became claws, then crooked elbows and she was slipping, stepping back. There was a long shining knife, thin like a needle and the stranger flew out, a face focused in rage, hissing 'Did you think you could leave, without pain?' and the needle was thrusting straight for the woman.
The woman is across the river now. Her eyes fall down to the water. It rushes by here, penned in by tight walls, hurrying it on out of town. She looks back at the doorway. People are jostling, stooping down to something she can't see. They are calling for help. The woman hears shouts, 'A woman's been stabbed. Call someone!' She wonders if the woman is her. Then she's unsure which woman she means.
She only remembers she wanted something new. She doesn't want to go home, but she will. She has a husband, children, an elderly father. They will be waiting and wondering. She steps into the river. She lets herself be washed over by the white water. It is a relief to be carried.