OBSESSION by Zoe Dunn

The automatic doors whispered open, releasing a kiss of cool recycled air that gently brushed against her as she entered. It was always quiet in the early hours and Evie couldn’t help but be driven to this place of purchase. Her preference was always the early trading hours, less people meant fewer eyes. They were always watching. Evie knew that for her plan to be a success she would have to be patient. To wait for the correct circumstances, for the cards to fall in just the right way, creating the perfect situation for her actions to be victorious. Evie felt like today was her day.

She perused the aisles at leisure, drifting her fingers, small and dainty, along the racks of clothes. The soft fabric soothed her scattered mind. Her eye was drawn to the jewellery stand where the florescent lights bounced in rainbow refraction from the reflective surfaces making a treasure of the glass beads. This treasure was swiftly liberated to her person. There was gentle back ground chatter from the woman behind her. Evie was unconcerned, she’d played this game before and the woman was distracted, as was so often the case. The woman clearly needed more sleep and could certainly do with a change of shirt. Her pale blue blouse was currently sporting splashes of the previous night’s dinner, spaghetti bolognaise, a family favourite. 

She felt the air become cooler and could hear the hum of the fridges, their song becoming a part of her subconscious so that it felt like it emanated from within her own mind. She turned the corner for the meat aisle. 

For as long as Evie could remember, which wasn’t all that long, she had always been fascinated by the meat aisle. The deep, rich colour of the beef joints an abrupt contrast to its neighbour of pale chicken and pork. Their soft flesh of dissected pieces covered in tight clear wrap that begged for her fingers to gouge through its shiny surface and claw along its cool and tender fibres.

She passed in a rush, the cool air raising goose bumps on her pale arms. As Evie journeyed closer to the centre of the super market her mouth tingled with anticipation. The target was close at hand. The smooth beads, previously treasured, were now digging uncomfortably into her leg. She no longer acknowledged the pain; she was so enthralled at the thought of her prize now close at hand. 

As she turned another corner, entering aisle 9, she could see her prize. She’d been thinking of it for so long. Not an it a Him. His hands, so much smaller than her own, were thin and nimble. His eyes, bright with laughter and his smile so easily ready for her. He awaited her at the end of the aisle, but how much longer would he be there? How long would he remain within her reach? If only she could make it to him in time. Evie’s movements felt slow and sluggish as she approached. Her arms were clumsy and heavy with the anticipation of holding him at last and feeling him safe against her. His small form was so precious to her. 

As she edged closer she glanced round anxiously considering her options and whilst the bolognaise woman’s head was turned she deftly leant forward and pulled the glass bottle of red wine off the shelf. Its smash was a jagged scratch in the smooth surface of quiet that surrounded the market. The shards of green glass created drops of deep red rubies, dripping and pooling on the smooth tiled floor beneath her. Evie felt herself propel away at speed, mutterings from the woman behind her were the sound track of her retreat. The pressure of the beads against her leg was a painful and ever present reminder of how unobserved she’d been today. Her time was now and she was taking it.

The muttering woman was still distracted and anxiously looking round for a staff member when Evie took advantage of her distraction and as she passed his place of rest she gently but swiftly lifted him to her arms. Finally he was with her; she was finally at peace with him in her embrace. Evie felt an unencumbered joy spread through her body. Her eyes burned with tears of happiness. She tucked his face against her neck and gently pressed his body to hers, her heart beat a steady thrum against his tiny chest. She rocked him gently from side to side and sang soothingly to him no longer caring if she was overheard. The observers forgot, the danger no longer under consideration

Evie had been watching him for so long; at home, here in the super market, the cinema. The arcades where his eyes reflected the lights from the surrounding machines, the bells and music drowning out the roaring of her heartbeat lest those surrounding her hear it, for how could they not? Every breath she took was for him. Her strong gaze could see him and nothing but him. He was everywhere she went, an unavoidable obsession and now he belonged to her.

She headed down aisle three. All she needed to do was make it past the checkouts and she’d be home free. No one would make her come back here with him for fear of reprisals or embarrassment. At the distant end of the aisle a man approached. Evie looked up at him, carefully taking in his features, stylishly scruffy hair, deep set eyes; his jeans were new and yet ripped at the knees. To him, and all those like him, she was invisible. Evie didn’t exist, but the woman in her wake was gifted a warm smile and gentle words. Evie had never been so grateful for a lack of attention. The approach to the self-serve tills was gradual and steady, a distorted reflection of her inner turmoil. She was so happy to finally have him but guilty at what her mother would say when she found out. If she could just keep him a secret until she made it a safe distance from the store. Could she keep such a wondrous prize a secret from her? She was also so very afraid, the eyes were still everywhere. She was not yet free of the super market with its florescent beams like so many search lights seeking her out. There were also the security barriers and guard to contend with. 
“Oh please let it be today.” She inwardly pleaded. 
If she could just make it another 10 metres. She was so close now. 
Just as she was approaching the self-serve tills it happened. Her worst fears swiftly becoming reality. So encapsulated by him and her inner dialogue of concerns she had forgotten the bolognaise woman who had seemingly woken up from her sleep deprived stupor and had finally noticed her. The gentle music of the shop was completely over shadowed by the woman’s stern shriek. 
“Evie, just what do you think you’re doing?” 
Evie felt her heart plummet and her adrenaline sky rocket with the shock of authority that emanated from the woman. 
“What am I doing?” Thought Evie, immediately incensed to anger. 
“What am I doing?” Her fear of reprisal withered with the building of her outrage and indignation. 
“I’m taking back what’s mine.” 
These thoughts were like gusts of wind brazenly there and gone in an instant. In that moment the woman, wearer of the blue blouse, displayer of yesterday’s dinner, the eater of bolognaise (a family favourite) her MOTHER no less, removed Evie’s prize from her clutching fingers and with it Evie’s heart. How could she live without him? He was her everything. The maker of dreams, created from magic, lover of warm hugs, he was roughly and unceremoniously being returned to his place of rest. On the shelf. 
“OLAF!” Evie screamed. 
Her high pitched wails shattered through the quiet peace of Sainsbury’s at 8.00am. She watched as his plastic body tipped and toppled over onto its side, the ricochet of his hollow chest loud against the metal shelving. His small stick arm lifted in a false wave rocking, as his body pitched to and fro with the force of his fall. His ever present smile mocked her devastation. His eyes always so bright and full of light appeared to show a benevolent intent as he gloried in her failure. 
“Didn’t he want to come home with me?” 
Evie pitched her screams higher as she lost all control of her senses. Her legs can canned against the foot rest of her buggy and her back arched in a vain attempt to escape her nylon straps. She could barely hear the huff from her mother over the pounding of blood in her ears. Evie did not acknowledge the tip of the buggy as she was manoeuvred into the self-service checkout. The purchasing of milk and bread was nothing but a blur as she grieved her lost Olaf and his indifference to her. 
They exited the shop and were enveloped by the warm heavy heat, a preamble to the scorch of the day to come. Exhausted, her tantrum slowly extinguished by the heat and fatigue of the early start, Evie felt her tired form succumbing to the oncoming nap. As she was drifting off she was consoled as she pulled from beneath her a long string of sparkly beads, reduced to £3.50 but still too much of an embarrassment to return. She relished the feeling of triumph as she held them in her sticky fingers it was a soothing balm to her heartache of Olaf’s loss. As her mother lifted her to her car seat Evie’s last thought, as she slipped into sleep, was that Olaf was safe under the watch of the eyes. Then briefly of the empty wooden fruit bowl at home and her love of bananas. There was always tomorrow.

In