Auntie Florence heaved violently and collapsed onto the ghastly cyan coffee shop table. She gasped for air, thinking her penultimate thought.
All of them looking. This is so embarrassing.
Auntie Florence had a productive start to the day. Her tenants had left for work and she was rummaging through their belongings.
You never know with these foreigners.
She was just about finished when the doorbell rang. Some religious social welfare types were making their weekly visits and had arrived 15 minutes before the scheduled timing. She adjusted her thinning grey hair, placed her glasses on the rosewood table in the living room and peered through the peephole.
Kaypohs are early.
Auntie Florence opened the door feebly, emphasising each creak and ache the door was making. The volunteers greeted her cheerily, their hands gripping bags of rice, toilet paper, some cans of food and instant cereal. They knew Auntie Florence did not like any of her bags touching the ground so they made an effort to hold the groceries aloft, signalling a pseudo cleanliness.
“Hello Auntie Florence! How are you today?”
She paused a tad longer than usual, stared at all 3 of them before letting them in.
So much time to dress up to deliver food.
The volunteers shuffled in awkwardly and stood by the peeling grey PVC couch. Auntie Florence closed her complaining door once again with the gusto of a sloth, turned around and addressed them.
“Put the food on the couch.”
She really hated groceries on the floor.
The volunteers did as they were told. The leader of the volunteers spoke.
“Have you eaten your breakfast, Auntie Florence?”
“What did you eat?”
“Did you finish the rice and food we gave you the last time?”
“We brought…” The leader was interrupted.
“We brought more cans, cereal and toilet paper today.”
Auntie Florence’s gaze then turned to the door, apparently left ajar. The volunteers followed her gaze. Looking at the door, the leader murmured.
“We go first ok. Take care Auntie Florence.” It sounded like a sigh of relief.
As the volunteers made their way out of her apartment, Auntie Florence’s neighbour stepped out of his. He was sure to put on his shoes in the most deliberate way possible to avoid any eye contact.
No shame, this man. Living with another man.
At the coffee shop, a crowd gathered gawking. Moments before, she had managed to jump the queue to purchase her packet of economy rice. The young chubby fellow whose line she cut did not see her coming.
So fat and yet order so much…
Before she could finish her thought, she was violently shoved. Her lanky frame reversed several paces, and she tripped, before crashing into an empty coffee shop table headfirst. In that instant, she heard the voice of the volunteer group leader. It was more a sharp shrill than a voice.
“Oh my God! Oh my God! Auntie Florence! I’m so sorry Auntie Florence! Auntie Florence!”
Auntie Florence could feel herself blushing with embarrassment as her body folded into an origami of stroke induced limpness. Her left arm, like an anchor, dragged the rest of the body as she finally collapsed into the greasy tiled floor of the coffeeshop. Gasping, with a final flash of clarity, Auntie Florence saw her packet of economy rice; the styrofoam box ripped opened and its contents scattered all over beside her.