Find a Penny, Pick it Up (Content Warning – Loss)
She left the store via the Prince’s Street North exit and walked down to Middle Abbey Street and on to Liffey St. Lower, the sky was on fire just like her hair. Even the rain couldn’t put it out. Joe always said she had a waterproof coat just like an Irish Setter. She shook her head and watched the droplets spray outwards onto passers-by. It was clocking-off time and the streets were busy; everyone was on a mission to the bus or the Dart – no time for a smile, a nod, or a “how’re ye doin’”. The windows of the buildings reflected auburn and the old-fashioned replica gaslights were turning on with an orange glow. Even the puddles were pumpkin coloured. She used to love this time of year.
The paper Penney’s bag she gripped tightly was not waterproof and, slowly but surely, it was starting to disintegrate. Just as she was going up the steps of the Ha’penney Bridge the bag finally came away from the handles and the contents gushed out like a fabric waterfall. The iconic cast-iron bridge was hiving with Dubs and tourists; no one noticed, they stomped over her purchases with wet shoes. Sorcha was down on her knees scrambling about, trying to recover the items whilst trying not to get trod on. She made a grab for the baby blanket first. The pale blue fleece now had a couple brown boot prints smudged on it. The satin ribbon edging was sucking up water like litmus paper. She threw it over an arm and with the other reached out to seize the various t-shirts she’d bought in the men’s sale section. Everything had been reduced. She’d only had five euros and wanted to get as much for it as she could. The biggest saving was the size seven sandals with cerise sequins. Just then she got knocked off balance and her and her size five navy Nikes ended up in a puddle. She turned back round to try again for the sandals when her hand touched another, she panicked and snatched quickly but the hand had a tight grip. She stood up, using the force to intensify her pull. And then she was standing face to face with a man, looking into his kind green and hazel eyes, edged with soft wrinkles like winter branches.
‘Are you okay?’ he smiled and let go of the sandals. They swung like a pendulum, dripping water into the puddle below. Sorcha nodded emphatically. He narrowed his eyes but instead of frowning he smiled again whilst taking out a Tesco bag for life from the large pocket of his waxed Barbour coat. He held it open in front of her. Sorcha started filling the bag with all the stuff she had no use for.