Clean up on Isle 4

by Lewis

Till opening on

He only has moments to act, but Harold stumbles on his thoughts and feet as he tries to spin 180 degrees and walk forward at the same instant.

... Isle 4.

He moves too late late as he jerkily tries to balance the grapefruit at the top of his precarious basket. He hates grapefruit. His back aches from the weight, why didn't he get a trolley. Bloody typical.

Sandra, sales executive, with the perfect body of an amateur swimmer. Funny, clever, caring.

The grapefruit begins to roll, hovering for a fraction of a second on the thin metal rim. Time stops.

“We’re interested sure, can you come down to Islington on Thursday we can talk more!”

Then like a falling star, the grapefruit descends crashing into a 100 small pieces the size of giant pennies. The juice trickles over his flip flops. He always hated Christmas shopping.

“It's just Christmas with the parents, what are you worried about?”

Why did he worry about showing commitment. And now his only commitment was paying rent.

He stands unmoving, his toes frozen from the chilled Isle, mind racing. All those wrong choices.


“I’m sorry but it's a long way to go just for a chat about a job.”

Fuuuck. He was 53 and utterly alone. How did that happen.

“Look just don't come then, stay here. I'll see you in the new year…for god's sake your not even going to argue are you. No don't like at me”


“Excuse me sir, was that your grapefruit?” The 10 year old shop assistant, looked up at him disappointedly. Harold pauses before turning his fear filled, angry eyes to the unfortunate lad.

“I hate grapefruit. Did you know that? Course you didn't, you don't care about having to eat crap you hate so you don't have a heart attack, you push a broom around and the rest of the time your just out fucking and drinking and god knows what else. A world of opportunity ahead of you, that you don't care about because you will live forever. Well fuck me. I live in a one bed flat on my own in a job I hate. That wasn't the plan And now what, whose gonna hire someone in their 50s? I could have gone to Wisemans and Cribb, a top Islington law firm....”

The basket drops to the floor, an explosion of rice crackers, bulger wheat and celery.

The shop assistant cowers behind the sweets counter. Harold approaches.

“You should have seen her. Clever, funny, confident, stunning. I’m taking these.” Harold grabs a pack of Chocolate Starfish.

“What? Don't look at me. That's what she said actually, on her way out. I'm an idiot. You ever tried getting a date as an overweight, underachieving 53 year old? HAVE YOU?”

Harold sinks to the floor, opening the chocolates on his descent. Between stuffing handfuls into his mouth, he uses the chocolate bag to stop hyperventilating.

Then around the corner, the clip of heels and a voice from his memories, a meld of past and present.

“Oh my god, Harold?” The chocolate mess looks up, wiping his mouth and smeering chocolate further up his cheeks. He has never forgotting those eyes. Slowly a hand extends, offering the bag.

“Hi Sandra, chocolate starfish?”