She didn’t like her latest addiction. The previous one was quite alright. No one in her family liked spinach so it was not a question of competition or moral obligation to give it up for a younger sibling. Popeye approved. The one before that was boiled potatoes. She didn’t retain any memory before four years old but Mother mentioned it more than she would care to ignore.
She promised that it won’t happen again. It was a serious oath. She’s not going to break it. But it happened yesterday, the day before yesterday and even the day before that. In fact, it has been happening non-stop for almost two weeks straight. She remembers counting it. Not one, not two but fourteen, to be exact. Fourteen times she begged God not to tempt her with that scrumptious banquet. She dreamed about them. All purple and glitter under the candle light, smiling seductively at her. Waving their little silver skirt. Their perfume melting in her hair. She woke up, swearing up a storm and hope to repent soon. Today it seemed that the fifteenth promise is about to be broken.
She slipped into the small shop carrying her purse, bouncing it in her hands. Inside were layers of red and yellow notes and some coins. She could buy the whole damn thing! Her eyes darted towards the second last aisle on the left. Their scent is coaxing her to come closer. She forgot about her promises. Her mind clouded by overworking senses. Her mouth waters at the line of tantalizing nougat, caramel smothered peanut bars, marshmallow coated rice bubbles, blueberry swirled filling in chocolate casing, butterscotch layered wafers, the lot. Her hand grabbed the plastic lid and her tiny fist seized as many Cadbury bar as she could hold. Oh, she could almost taste it on her fingers! Her tongue drowns in a sea of chocolate, vegetable fat and sugar. She closed her eyes and brought that image clear.
The hand on her shoulder snapped her out of it.
She didn’t dare turn around. Humiliation is another form of punishment. Her temple pulsed with the song of the fallen. She thought that her blood stopped flowing. Her legs filled with liquid lead. She knew that this would happen somehow. It’s the end. She might as well admit it before anything else happen. She doesn’t want the cashier to scream at the top of her lungs telling the world that she found the thief.
Even the actual word is plain disgusting. She raked her brain in less than a few seconds for some believable excuses. I was meant to pay that but I forgot. Maybe they would believe her. But does it explain how the bars got into her purse? She can feel her cheeks hot as coals.
“Hey, you okay?” asked a familiar voice.
She turned around and saw relief. Her lab partner was browsing some egg tarts on the display tray.
“I’m..fff…fine,” she replied.
“Haha! You looked like you’ve been caught stealing,” said the Chinese girl cheerfully.
Her face turned into a huge puckered fabric. She looked as if she just swallowed the most bitter of lemons.
“Let’s go. Recess is about to finish after all,” she said, pulling her friend’s dry hands.
“But I haven’t bought anything…You sure you’re fine? Your hands are cold,” the partner frowned slightly as she grasp the tiny, pale fists.
“Don’t worry. I’m okay. Just…just take what you want, okay? My treat,” she said. Her cracked lips curled into a half smile. Another half is visibly shaken. Her temples still throbbing.
As they climb up the stars, the cashier frowned at all the notes placed on the counter. She couldn’t see who left it and why. Both girls sucked the blueberry filling and one girl bounces her empty purse. Her chest puffed out her last shred of dread.