give a girl a break
Under their glares I fumble through the change in my wallet. The family's weekly groceries are lying in a heap in front me, waiting to be packed into my trolley, but first I have to pay.
I give an apologetic smile to the cold stone faces. I want to pay so they can get on with their lives. I want to pay so I can stop smiling like an idiot.
The total is 50.92. I wasn't left any money for the groceries this morning, so I'm using what I have, knowing they'll reimburse me. But all I have is 50.72.
People stare. I explain myself. I pray someone will offer me change.
I ask the expressionless man, next in line, if he has 20 cents. He opens his wallet and passes me a coin. I smile, say "Merci" at least three times and finally pay the cashier.
After packing up my trolley and a big plastic bag, I waddle the groceries down the street.
A man outside the newsagent says "Bonjour" to me. I answer "Bonjour" with a face as cold as the angry army in line at the grocery store.
Another man says "Hello! Smile! Hey!" And I roll my cart quickly away. Normally I would yell back, but not today.
Back in the apartment, I panic as I'm unloading the groceries, realizing I have no more change to buy the daily baguette. I have zero cents to my name.
I distract myself by making lasagna for tonight's dinner. Monsieur comes in as I have three pots going on the stove, one for the beef, one for the Bechamel sauce, and one for the sheets of pasta.
He apologizes about the grocery money, pays me back, says it smells delicious, and laughs at my passion for cooking. His presence is warm on such a cold day.
It's grey and dreary when I pick the kids up from school. At the park I shuffle my feet around and hide in my scarf.
At dinner the young girl tells me I shouldn't say things like "Hey!" When I'm trying to get mad at them. I should say “Arrête tes bêtises! Assis toi!” She says that I shouldn't say "Okay" so much either. I tell her I'm Anglophone and it's normal for me to use English words. The boy starts laughing and chants: "Anglophone, telephone! Anglophone, telephone!"
She refuses to eat, or even try the lasagna, and asks me to make her something else. I give her bread, cheese, dried saucisson, and see her nibble at the lasagna when I’m not looking.
I can't believe it's only Monday.