Shopping List

by Liesl Jobson Read author interview October 15, 2004

“Bread, oil, yoghurt, apple juice, mieliemeal…”

Liesbet stared at the half-used roll of white toilet paper in the spare bathroom, removing the empty one in the en-suite. She wondered whether it would last until she got to town herself.

“S’that all?” Roelof’s voice echoed on the mobile.
“Um…” She fingered the last scrap of tissue stuck to the empty cardboard cylinder before tossing it into the bin covered in frilly yellow gingham.

She would have to ask Roelof to get the toilet paper. The last time they ran out because she hadn’t written it on the shopping list, there was an all night fight. Liesbet had wanted to buy it herself, because white toilet paper was particularly important to her, because Roelof always bought rolls of pink, to match the tiles and the towels, or yellow to match the walls and the toilet seat cover his mother had crocheted. His mother had taught him the importance of matching things. She said it showed a man’s feminine side.

Liesbet needed white tissue paper because it told her intimate details about her private place, details she wasn’t ready to share with Roelof yet. Against the pink paper, she could not detect the faint spotting that had heralded each failed pregnancy. Against the yellow paper, she could not see the discolouration of her secretions that accompanied her fertile period or revealed another infection.

“Get some soap, toilet cleanser and…” she hesitated.
“Hurry up,” he crackled.
“Toilet paper – please buy *white* toilet paper.”

The phone went dead. Had he heard her? The reception at the farm wasn’t good.

She was two and a half weeks overdue. Eighteen days precisely. She wondered whether she was really feeling nauseous or imagining it. She thought her breasts felt particularly sensitive. She definitely had a metallic taste in her mouth, as if she’d been sucking on a coin. In the bathroom, she lifted her skirt and dropped her panties. She sat on the ledge of the bath. There was still no sign on the cotton gusset. She didn’t want to go for a pregnancy test to the only doctor in Ulugwadule, the railway siding whose name translated from Zulu into ‘barren place’.

Roelof’s bakkie swerved up to the farmhouse in a cloud of dust. He dumped the shopping bags on the kitchen table, grabbed a beer and slouched in front of the rugby on TV. The Bokke were slaughtering the All Blacks in Wellington. Liesbet unpacked the bread, oil, yoghurt, apple juice, mieliemeal, soap, toilet cleanser and rolls of toilet paper – yellow and pink.

About the Author:

Liesl Jobson lives in a parrot cage. She eats pencils for breakfast. She writes with a feather dipped in beak juice. Her work has appeared online in Exquisite Corpse, Pindeldyboz, Gator Springs Gazette, Opium and Lamination Colony.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.