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Paula Hunter 3 for 2 The screaming has been going on for about a minute, shrill, rhythmic, determined. You approach the pharmacy till cautiously, making minimal eye contact, keeping your head down, speaking clearly so as to be understood first time. You do not want another interaction. The voice of the assistant is calm, soothing and she is talking to the children. They are all looking at her and the baby has stopped screaming. You feel suddenly rude in the face of someone else’s humanity. So you look up, meaning just to acknowledge her but she doesn’t look away and she is smiling. Maybe she is charmed by the children; maybe she is remembering her own. It is a proper smile and it feels as if she is reaching out to tell you, you are not alone. Some days you can smile back, make a wry remark and she will laugh and it helps to know someone else understands. This is not one of those days. “The shampoo is on a 3 for 2 offer. Do you want to go get another one?” “Oh no thanks,” you say, pulling the baby back from the counter where he has knocked over the box of sweets. He is heavy now, leaning with his full weight away from you and it is like wrestling a small tiger. “Are you sure?” she asks, blinking. She is staring at you as though you have rejected a winning lottery ticket. “Yes, thanks.” “I’m happy to wait for you to run back.” How can you make her understand that another shampoo is just not worth dragging them all back through the shop, past the toy aisle, when you have managed to find the wipes and the Calpol and the nappy rash cream and you can see the door? “No really. Thanks.” She rolls her eyes as she swipes your card. You feel the weight of her stare as you type the pin. You strap the baby into the pram, transfer the boys’ grip to the handle and corral them towards the door. And you are alone. Your husband works long hours and is often away but he earns enough so you mustn’t complain. You’re just tired. You pull a child in from the edge of the kerb as a sports car screams by. The baby throws his dummy out of the pram; it lands on the ground. You 

Structo issue 15  
Structo issue 15  

Structo issue 15 features 11 short stories, 17 poems, a feature on cover design & an interview with the ex-poet laureate of North Korea Jang...

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