From the forthcoming book Lost in the Supermarket, Hagar meets an angel in the nappies aisle…
I almost tripped over her. She was slouched in the nappies aisle, just by the rash cream. I had to jump over her to save myself from stepping on her.
‘Oof! You all right down there?’ I gasped, as I steadied myself and looked down at her.
She looked up, her face hard and lined with tracks of tears. She was about 18 I think, though I was never that good at ageing people. I had sensed something was up the moment I walked through the doors. Something in the air. So it didn’t surprise me to find someone in this state.
‘Are you lost?’ I asked.
She smeared her hand across her face and sniffed.
‘Sort of,’ she said.
She sighed and stroked her stomach. I glanced up at the piles of nappies behind her.
‘Morning sickness?’ I said, then thought again and added, ‘all day sickness?’
‘All day sick of someone,’ she sneered back. ‘I’m doing her a favour and all she does is put me down.’
She stroked her stomach again.
‘I won’t even get to keep the life I’m carrying for her.’
‘I think you will.’
‘It’s not as clear cut as you think,’ I said.
‘I hate her,’ she said, ‘she always gives me the worst jobs now.’
‘And you didn’t bring it on yourself in some way? Just a little bit?’
Her head snapped round.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well… looking just a little bit smug maybe? You know, about carrying her husband’s child?’
‘Don’t know about that but I know I gave him a good time. That I do know.’
‘And you don’t think that might just have got under her skin a bit?’ I said.
‘Shut up. I didn’t ask to be a surrogate mother.’
‘No. But this is the way it’s gone. The responsibility that’s come your way. You big enough for the challenge? Smart enough?’
‘Course I’m smart enough,’ she said.
‘Well, that’s what I thought. You look to me like you’re just the woman for the job.’
‘You don’t know me.’
‘Oh but I do. I work for the God who knows people. Inside and out. He sees you, he knows you.’ I tapped my chest. ‘Deep inside. He understands, believe me. He knows you had other plans. Knows about your disappointments and troubles and pressures. I can promise you that.’
I held out my hand to her.
‘God is on your side, Hagar,’ I said.
‘How d’you know my name?’ she said.
‘I told you, I work for a God who knows you very well indeed.’