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The Choice Shop

The little girl stood in the middle of the black and white tiled floor, circling slowly, head tilted back, eyes wide. Behind the counter, arranged on rows of brown oak shelves, were jars of sweets of all colour and variety.

The shopkeeper leaned forwards, resting his elbows on the counter as he watched the little girl. He smiled and winked at her mother then, with a good deal of show, selected a white paper bag and flicked it open, picking up a stainless steel scoop with his other hand.

'Has madam decided yet?'

The little girl sighed. 'There's so many!'

Her mother knelt down beside her and pointed out some favourites. 'Milk bottles? Chocolate buttons? Frisbees? Look, there are even cherry shoelaces!'

The little girl stepped away with a frown of irritation. Deciding was difficult enough, without her mother adding to the confusion. She stared up at the beautiful jars, so full of promise, tapping her chin with her finger in a mimic of a habit she had witnessed in her grandmother.

The shopkeeper and mother chuckled in that slightly patronising manner of adults. The little girl shrugged helplessly. 'I just can't choose,' she said sadly.

'Come on! I promised you a bag of sweets. You must have a favourite!' said her mother, shuffling her shopping bags uncomfortably.

'But they're all so nice. I'd like the whole shop!'

The shopkeeper smiled and straightened up. 'Would it help if you could have a mixture?'

The little girl's eyes shone. 'Really?'

The shopkeeper nodded. 'Just this once, mind!'

'Oh! Thank you!'

Ten minutes later the little girl left the shop clutching a very full white paper bag in one hand, her mother's hand in the other. The shopkeeper watched them go with a smile that faded when he looked back at the jumble of opened jars on the counter. He counted them as he put their lids back on and returned them to the shelves: fourteen jars.

'No wonder she couldn't make her mind up!' he muttered.


© 2012 Kay Lawrence.


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