“Oh, Barry, why have you chucked the lid on the floor?” The old woman sighed. Barry, ten years old if he was a day, shrugged.
“Dropped it,” his nose wrinkled, making his spectacles wiggle.
“I bet you did.”
He held out the plastic cup from which he had been spooning chocolate sundae. “I don’t want no more.”
“Oh, Barry. You’ve ate less than half – you’ve ate a quarter of it.”
“I’ve ate half!” Barry asserted. “I need a drink now.”
He began to root through their shopping bags, almost causing them to drop from the bus stop seats.
“Wait until we’re on the bus,” the old woman suggested.
“Ugh!” said the boy. “That’s ages. Have this. It’s sickly.”
The old woman accepted the sundae and began to spoon dollops of it into her mouth.
“Is it nice?”
“Hmm,” said the woman. “Bit sickly.”
“That bus is taking his time,” Barry observed, squinting along the road.
“You mind I don’t push you in front of it,” the old woman muttered.
Barry rounded on her. “I heard that, you septic old trout. You know you can’t lay a finger on me. It’s against the rules.”
“Blow the rules,” the woman spat, her spittle mixed with flecks of cream. “This ain’t working out for me, Barry. I didn’t realise you’d be such a – such a little imp.”
“Should have read the small print than, shouldn’t you? Are you going to find me that drink or what?”
The old woman pulled a bottle from a carrier bag. Barry snatched it from her and twisted off the cap. While he guzzled, the old woman smirked.
You hear about kids drinking weed killer all the time. Tragic accident. She couldn’t be blamed. And he’d done it to himself. There was no breach of contract.
Barry clutched at his throat and rolled around on the ground, holding his stomach in agony. The old woman took the contract from her handbag and tore it in two.
When she’d paid for her late husband to come back, she hadn’t realised he’d be reincarnated as a baby. A decade of running around after him, attending to his every need, his every whim, had reminded her how awful married life with him had been. Better off alone, she reckoned. Get some peace at last.
Gasping and gurgling, his eyes bulging even larger behind his glasses, Barry coughed up blood and bile and expired. The tarmac beneath him cracked open and swallowed him with a belch of brimstone and a flash of flame.
The old woman gathered the shopping bags and got her pass ready. Bus’ll be here soon, she supposed.