In the village, all of life was a game.
The shop shut at five. Whilst Mr Key did the books, Mr Felder would let the children play all over the store, in amongst the rows of cans and bottles and packets. They each took a basket, slowly walked to the back of the shop and placed their baskets on the floor. Mary Jane’s aisle contained bread, crisps, biscuits, sweets and drinks. Jacomo’s was full of tinned vegetables, pasta, rice, breakfast cereals. Solemnly, seriously, they put both their feet in their baskets and crouched down, holding the two handles. Casual observers may have wondered if it were a craze for buying feet.
Mary Jane shouted to Mr Felder to start the race. Mr Key stopped his work for a moment to look up and watch. The children both crouched in position like cheetahs ready to burst into action. Jacomo looked down at the superhero on his t-shirt, getting ready to emulate him. They glanced across at each other and into each other’s eyes. Mr Felder shouted them away and they were off.
Pulling on the handles and jumping simultaneously they both lurched clatteringly from one end of the shop to the other. Mary Jane had started slowly but was soon in the lead when her brother tripped and landed on his knees. His legs seemed to tangle with one another as he struggled to get back upright and by the time he got going again he had changed course and was blindly making a bee-line for the shelf containing the baked beans. Jacomo heard Mr Felder’s shout just as he was about to crash and as he looked up Mary Jane was already crossing the finishing line.
Mr Felder took her hand in his middle-aged man’s grasp and held it aloft, signalling that she was the winner. Jacomo dejectedly got out of his basket and dragged it clumsily behind his heels. Mr Key rewarded them both a chocolate bar and got back to his accounts. Mary Jane smiled and held a square of chocolate in her cheek. She used the side of her teeth like sandpaper to round off the dangerous edges of it.