At lunch I decide not to sit in the staff room. It isn’t raining, almost sunny, and I go and stand in the carpark instead.
I wish I still smoked.
I wish I wasn’t working in a supermarket.
I wish I was living on an island in the
I wish Carmella was there.
I wish The Turtle was an actual turtle – that one night she wakes up in her bed as a turtle and comes into work – and I just pick her up and put her in the sea and watch her swim away. (Or even just zoanthropy: that The Turtle imagines one day she is an actual turtle and gets the sack for crawling around and chewing the lettuces and things.)
I start walking across the carpark.
I see someone in a supermarket uniform standing next to someone not in a supermarket uniform. They are standing next to a car. The bonnet of the car is up.
I walk in their direction.
When I get nearer I slow down; Carmella and a woman.
I sort of sidle diagonally past them. They don’t notice.
I get to the end of the carpark, turn around.
They’re still there, looking at the car and talking about something.
I sidle past them again in a snaky movement, looking down at my shoes.
Hey, says a voice. Carmella’s voice.
I turn to look. She’s waving.
I go up to them.
Hey, says Carmella.
Hello, I say.
Hello, says the woman.
Oh, says Carmella. This is my tita. Tita, this is my friend, _____. _____, this is my tita Lucinda.
Hello, I say.
I am Carmella’s friend, I think.
We have spoken once.
I am her friend.
She knows my name.
Lucinda smiles at me.
Do you know anything about cars? says Carmella.
A bit, I say.
Oh good, says Lucinda.
Oh god, I think.
My tita was doing some shopping, you see, and now her car won’t start up, says Carmella. Do you think you could take a look at the engine?
Sure, I say. No problem.
What am I doing?
I go and look at the engine. It looks like an engine. There are lots of pipes and things coming out of it, rubber tubes and valves and stuff. I nod my head a couple of times.
What do you think it is? says Carmella.
Might be the carburettor, I say.
Where’s that? says Carmella.
Um. Kind of over here.
I point vaguely at the engine, making sure my finger moves around a bit and doesn’t point towards anything too specific.
I’m not completely sure though, I say.
Oh, says Carmella.
She looks sad.
Sorry, I say.
That’s okay, Carmella says.
Carmella? Lucinda says. Then she says something in a foreign language.
Carmella and Lucinda talk in the foreign language for a while.
It sounds nice. It sounds a bit like birds chirping.
Then Carmella says, My tita was wondering if you would like to come to our house for dinner one night. She says you look thin. She says you need some feeding up.
This is not happening.
Um, I say. Okay.
Carmella and Lucinda smile at me.
Great, says Carmella.
I’d better get back, I say, looking at my watch.
Okay, they say.
Okay, I say.
I turn and walk back towards the supermarket.
My stomach feels like a shook-up snowglobe.