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The shop was busy, as it usually was on a Saturday afternoon. There was a long queue at the till, and the part-time girl was practically running around the shop, trying to keep the shelves stacked.

But there was always one. Always one customer who apparently didn’t register the existence of anybody else in the store, who expected personal attention while the line behind them grew ever longer.

In this case it was a little old lady. She looked entirely harmless, and was probably somebody’s gran, but the sight of her filled the shopkeeper with dread. She had never moved into the supermarket age; she expected every item to be fetched for her.

With a sigh, he smiled as politely as he could. “Good afternoon, Mrs Maudsley. What can I get for you today?”

She rummaged through her capacious brown handbag and pulled out a crumpled piece of paper. She held it up, squinted at it, smiled at him, then rummaged through the bag once more for her reading glasses.

“Half a pound of tuppeny rice,” she said, once she eventually got her glasses polished and perched on her nose. “And half a pound of treacle.”

From the back of the store, there was a sudden commotion. The part time girl screamed as a weasel ran between her legs and fled the store.

© Kari Fay

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