I pushed the shopping trolley down the aisle holding the sauces, scouring the jars for something to make for dinner. Today was the last day before half-term, which meant, luckily for me, I went home a few hours earlier than usual. Those luxuries came few and far between these days, so I used my precious time in doing things that mattered to me, like shopping at Morrisons. I needed a reality check because the only exciting thing to come out of my trip here was the half-price doughnuts.
"Miss Rose is here!"
I stopped turning the jar of pasta sauce in my hand to see Mabel standing at my feet, followed by her Grandma Gene, who looked as happy to be in this place as me. Mabel wrapped her arms around my legs and looked up at me with a chocolaty smile. I beamed down at her, stroking back the hair that was falling out of her braid, itching to grab a baby wipe to scrub her mouth clean.
"Fancy seeing you here," I said.
She let go to look up at her Grandma. "We are choosing cereal, aren't we, Gran?"
Gene gave me a cute hello by waving her two fingers, peering down at her granddaughter. "We are, honey pie. Show Miss Rose, which one you chose."
Mabel dashed towards the trolley, bouncing on her feet to hang over the side to pick up a cereal box. The wheels rolled forward as soon as she threw herself off of it to shove the box in my face. "It's called learn your letters. See?"
I took the box and inspected it closer. "I see. That's amazing."
Mabel kept pointing at the picture on the front that showed a large bowl with letter cereal and coloured books. "There are mini marshmallow books that turn the milk a different colour."
Looking down at a box of plain old bran flakes in my trolley, it made me wonder what it was like to be a kid again. "Looks yummy."
"Yes, I bet it is. Gran is taking me to ballet lessons after here. I can't wait."
Gene sent me a sweet smile, which I reciprocated. "Well, I hope you have fun."
Mabel's chubby cheeks flushed pink when her stare became curious. She sunk back on her heels. "Are you excited for the half-term? I am."
We moved our trollies as a woman tried to squeeze past, just as Mabel gave the cereal to Gene to put back. My feet hummed from the day at school. I swore by my trust flat shoes, but when I woke up and saw my kitten heels sitting in my wardrobe, I thought it might be nice to wear something different. I now regretted that decision.
"I'm very excited, yes. You'll never guess where I'm going after here?" I said, causing her big blue eyes to grow twice as big.
"Where are you going?" she replied.
I leaned onto the handle of the trolley to take the weight off my feet. It probably wouldn't be the best workout considering my soles were in bits. "I'm going to Zumba."
"Zumba." Mabel looked at Gene. "Aunty Donna goes there."
Gene nodded as she swept her hand over her granddaughter's head. True love shining back in her eyes. "Yes, she does. You wanted to go, didn't you, honey pie?"
Mabel got out of breath. "I did, but the teacher said I was too little."
"Oh, no, well, that's a shame. Maybe when you're a little older, you can join us grown-ups." I glanced over at Gene. "There's a kid's dance fit class on a Saturday night at the village hall. I think you'll be able to get in tomorrow if you book now."
Gene sighed. "We won't be able to do that. Saturdays are Casey, my son's, busiest night at the restaurant he owns. All our family chip in and work. We've no way of taking her there."
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Strain of LoveRomance
FREE STORY WITH PAID BONUS CHAPTERS. A shy primary school teacher, who falls in love with her student's father, learns that the secrets he keeps will change her life forever. ... Primary school teacher Verity Rose's life is simple and straightforw...