Author : Mark Robinson

“But, how is any of this possible?”

Despite the scene she’s making all I can focus on is the pink tip of the pregnancy test strip – which we stock on aisle five – that she’s waving around in the air; watching the droplets of pink-tinted urine fleck across the counter where I’m standing, completely at a loss as to what I should do.

A steady line of customers, hands still holding onto the item they were looking to buy before the woman burst into the store ranting, peek out from between the shelves I’ve yet to finish stocking.

Any answer I give will be the wrong one; even though the thought occurs to me that we currently have a special on synthetic breast milk.

“How’m I meant to tell my husband? He’s in deep space and won’t be back for another twelve months and what d’you think he’ll say when he lands and sees me holding another one of these?”

I never noticed the woman was holding onto a kid with her urine-free hand.

When she doesn’t get a response, she turns to the counter display of condoms; “And, these things don’t work,” picking up a couple of boxes and slamming them down in front of me on the counter. “I’m gonna sue the pants of your manager when he gets back from lunch.”

So that explains why we’re short on stock and he ducked out early.

A brief silence hits the woman while she looks at the clock above my head.

“Which one did you use?” A small, thin teenager standing behind the woman and her toddler.

The quiet woman looks at the stick in her hand and shoves it in the girls face.

“Yeah,” She nods, “I had a false positive with one of them.”

The woman’s eyebrows hover slightly before narrowing her eyes back at me then dragging her kid around to aisle five.

The teenager looks at me waiting for my thank you; I pick up the boxes of contraception and place them back into their racks. When the counter’s clear, the woman drops three boxed test strips down for me to swipe.

“Tell Joe if they come out positive again, he owes me nine-ninety-five.”

I scan the barcodes and hold out my hand for her payment which she ignores, snatching up the boxes and dragging her kid back out the door.

An elderly woman hobbles up to the counter, close enough to have heard every word of our exchange; “You’d think she’d be more careful in this day and age?” Dropping before me two packs of cancer cream and a USB vibrator. “They should bring back sterilisation,” routing in her purse for her money, “never did me any harm.”

When I look up the headset goes black and I hear my history teacher clear his throat. Back in the classroom, I remove the headset; afraid to look him in the eyes.

“Did you spot the deliberate mistakes?” He asks, greying fussy eyebrows bouncing above his head.

After a moment I think I grasp it, “It would take longer than twelve months to get back to earth from deep space in 2009.”

His mouth opens to comment. I hear a few titters from my classmates. Then I realise what I just said. “The cancer cream?”

Professor Grey smiles; “And?”

All I can do is shrug. Behind me, Stacie raises her hand to answer.

“Stacie?” He says, taking the headset from me.

She smiles at me, “When women used to give birth, it only took nine months to gestate.” She holds her smile in place. “And, the test turns blue when it’s positive, not pink.”

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