And a Happy New Year

Katie works the till at Debenhams
She comes in after school
‘Merry Christmas’ she chimes
Any number of times everyday
But the shoppers just hurry away

Though that doesn’t faze her at all
She still serves with a smile
But if you look into her vacant eyes
You just might realise that inside
There’s a hurt that she’s trying to hide

‘Cos recently at home
There’s been a poison in the atmosphere
Mum and Dad’s marriage hangs by a thread
Like the tinsel that clings to the blu-tac on the wall
She waits for it to fall

There’s an old man at her till now
She serves him with a smile
He shows her the flowers he’s bought for his wife
But, caught up in her strife, she doesn’t hear
‘Merry Christmas’ she smiles
‘And a Happy New Year’

Gerald shuffles through the busy town
Clutching his flowers
He dodges a mum and her pushchair
Turns ‘round to glare but they’re gone
Invisibly he shuffles on

He’s lived in a house on the outskirts of town
For fifty-three years or so now,
Moved in on his wedding day
Until his wife passed away
Only a year ago
He swore no-one would ever know

Just how he feels now that she’s gone
And he’s left here to muddle through
Still holding onto her memory
Like the tinsel that clings to the blu-tac on the wall
He waits for it to fall

He kneels down on frost-bitten grass
In the lonely churchyard
‘Round the corner from their little home
Places flowers before a granite stone
Silently shedding a tear
‘Merry Christmas, my darling’ he whispers
‘And a Happy New Year’

Jane scours the clothes rack for bargains
Looks for the perfect gift
While her three kids buzz round her relentlessly
Testing the bounds of her sanity
Wearing thin
She picks out a coat from the bargain bin

A crash erupts from behind her
She sighs knowingly
A child’s cry punctures the air
Shoppers disapprovingly stare
She marches on
Balancing shopping, two kids and her eye on the other one

She’s used to all the looks
And the balancing too
Three children, two jobs and overdue rent
She desperately holds it together
Like the tinsel that clings to the blu-tac on the wall
She waits for it to fall

Cautious she types in her PIN number
Every penny a Russian roulette
A gamble with every buy
While the world wanders thoughtlessly by
She thinks, does anyone know that I’m here?
‘Merry Christmas’ the checkout girl chimes as she leaves
‘And a Happy New Year’