Sunday 7 June 2020

'Mix Up, Match Up' by Jennifer Watts


The tv booms. Louder than the three kids, yelling and throwing lego at
each other. It’s dinner time. Chaotic. Today’s lazy lunch with girlfriends
seems eons ago.


I’m a ditz. Our handbags were identical twins, at our feet on the cafe
floor. This stranger, Elle, will wonder who Beth is.


I’ve rifled through the tote. From her licence, I know what Elle looks like
and her address. Tomorrow, I’ll drive over, play switcheroo with six
million sorries. It’s amazing what you glean about a person from the
contents of her bag. Elle is fancy. Dior lipstick, gold compact, soft
tissues, posh perfume. By now, she knows me too. Loose gum, cheap


If I were rich, I’d hire one of everything: cleaner, cook, gardener. I’d buy
one huge house, banish the tv. And the kids, out to play in manicured
grounds. Get the trampoline they’re harking for.


Mash spuds, turn sausages, rinse dishes, prepare school lunches. Twenty
tasks at once? No problem. Try being a mother. In this busyness though,
I’ve forgotten something. It’s nudging at my mind. An appointment? A
date? Numbers.


My age, ha! “Congratulations!” How did the presenter know?

A piece of yellow dots my vision.

“Someone set the table,” I yell. “Turn that box off!”

In the sudden quiet, the tote hums from behind the couch. Vibrations
race along the floorboards, hit my toes, climb my torso, explode in my

On autopilot, I repeat figures until the kids sleep. My mind races far
ahead. Can she track me down? How long should I wait?

I reach into the tote. Careful now. Pull out each item as if electrified.

Here! A yellow ticket, strands of lines and a perfect set of numbers along
the top row.

Do I dare?

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