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Medium Sliced Humanity

SUMMER 2017 THIRD PLACE

‘Fiat Iustitia Ne Pereat Mundus’
(‘Let justice be done, lest the world perish’)

Two shoppers reach for the last stickered loaf.

One hand, pale and rough with fingernails glossed in Final Reminder Red. The other, rubble-brown and campfire-ash, save for a white band on one finger where last month’s shopping bill used to be.

Both women pause before the plastic packet—its colours the same as the graduation gown of one . . . and the flag from which the other fled.

Lips are pursed as purses barely jingle. Showdown in Aisle One. The high noon moment is silent as compassion and need go head to head.

Red-nails grabs and turns on broken heel, wobbling but head high—school shoes and lunchbox oranges matter more than dignity.

Queuing, one bottle of milk behind one prize loaf, the other woman’s too-big coat reveals a delicate body, a knitted baby sling and a tiny palm reaching from within.

The ‘Manager’s Special’ Basket bows under a heap of hot cross buns. Red chews her lip as the doughy crosses fill her gaze. Then, at the conveyor belt altar, she looks back . . . Tearing the loaf in two, she holds half out beneath a semi-smile.

And for a moment, in that small corner of the world, humanity comes up for air.


Flash Fiction by Taria Karillion
Picture: IMG_1238 by Matt Burns under CC BY-SA 2.0

Published in Summer 2017

2 Comments

  1. Lorna Malone Lorna Malone

    This is so good! A tiny piece of brilliant social comment.

    • Taria K Taria K

      Thanks, Lorna. There but for the grace of God go we, as they say.

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