‘On Having My Card Decline at Countdown’ by Amber Esau
The checkout girl dropped the Nashi pears in with the dried goods and they’ll probably bruise. Do the job properly mate. I think she’s in the sixth form but you can never really tell these days even though I haven’t been out of high school long enough to get away with thinking that. A man in line at the next counter over holds his baby against his shoulder so that she’s facing me. Her milky spit dribbles down her dad’s back in time with the beeping of the wiry haired checkout girl. Louise, as her name tag reads, calls the total and I fumble around in my bag for my wallet. My least favourite part is finding it. My boyfriend says that I buy too much food for us but he’s never seen how my family has to shop. I pull my card out, swipe and punch in the pin. The blue digital daggers of shame strike up on the screen and I start sweat-shaking. I often panic, like a lot of people, about being too broke for everyone.
Growing up in a house with no walls, sharing is expected and enforced by the way the air gels everything in place. The TV, the bodies, the sun slicing in through only the kitchen window at half past one; each finds themselves stretched amongst many hands. Everything is defined by relation. As the Samoan poet and novelist Albert Wendt writes: “We can only be ourselves linked to everyone and everything else in the Va, the Unity-that-is-All and Now.”
This is a fabulous read. A timely read. Rest of essay at Horoeka Reading here