Lesley Anne Collins is fascinated by shopping lists, so much so that she collects them, then imagines a short story inspired by each list. All shopping lists re-produced here are genuine and collected by Lesley in and around our local supermarkets. There are a few simple rules she sticks to – the list must be absolutely anonymous, mustn’t have any other information on it and must contain at least three items. The rest is imagined by Lesley. If you’ve ever written a shopping list and left it behind in your trolley, you may just see it appear here.
Thirty years after her shameful childhood dare, Alex was back at the gate of the white stone house on The Links.
The intense smell of lavender and the salty sea behind her stabbed at her senses and brought back memories she had tried to forget long ago, along with the waster friends who had egged her on that awful day.
‘Go on, Alex, it’s your turn, we dare you! Everybody hates her,’ her friends had baited her from the safety of the sunny side of the road.
Faking bravery, eight year old Alex eyed the garden of the house. The cold, bone handled knife she had stolen from the supermarket twitched in her hand as she put one foot in front of the other.
Two slim lines of lavender swayed hypnotically before her as her conscience pleaded with her not to do it.
Her friends had said she had to do this and Alex needed the friends; she’d even bought new clothes to keep up with them. Before her brass neck evaporated, Alex knelt down and slashed at the purple spikes, cutting, snatching and pulling at the flowers by the roots, scooping up huge handfuls of battered lavender and soil, pushing it wholesale through the letter box.
‘Go, Alex!’ goaded her friends as they backed off down the street. ‘Do the other side!’
Today, thirty years later, Alex recoiled at the memory of the broken, bare garden, the biting smell of the hacked up lavender and the glee of the friends who would later dump her anyway.
For thirty years, she’d wanted to put the lavender back. For thirty years, she’d waited for the woman to put the lavender back, but the garden stayed stony and unplanted.
As she stood today, once again at the gate, the white stone house still shone as brightly as the sun on the sea. The lavender pot in her hand dripped cold water through the pad of kitchen roll on which she held it. The essential oil smell spurred her forward to the sky blue front door.
As the woman’s son led her through to the rear of the house, he smiled.
‘My mother waited years for you to come back. She saw you through the window that day, and your so-called friends across the street. She had no idea who you were, but she knew you’d come back one day. She knew it. And now you have,’ he said, as I handed him the lavender pot.
by Lesley Anne Collins © 2015