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  • I was in the queue at the supermarket, having loaded my few bits and bobs onto the conveyor I was deciding whether I wanted to buy lemon mint gum or not. Ordinarily I’m not a fan of gum, but this sounded interesting. Then I decided I really should stop dumping ten extra items in every time I got bored at the till, having already added some chocolate raisins that I didn’t really need and hadn’t wanted before I saw them there next to me. Then my turn at the till came and I turned my attention away from supermarket marketing ploys and tempting confectionery and went about packing.

    “Oh, these conversations about kids!” Said the checkout woman and laughed.

    “Sorry?”

    “The conversation I just had with that man.” She said.

    “Oh, I’m so sorry I wasn’t listening to that, I was miles away.” And I gave her an encouraging look so she could explain if she wanted. She poured forth the most heartfelt story in the short time it took her to put my ten items or less through the checkout. It came out in a happy hopeful rush of her most heartfelt dreams, too urgent to remain inside her.

    She’d been speaking with the guy in front of me about a cute baby that was nearby and told me how adorable it was and I should have seen it because they are just so damn cute at that age. She went on to say that she was really wanting children but had polycystic ovaries.

    “Me too.” I told her, understanding.

    “Do you have kids?” She asked, hopefully.

    “No. They told me not to wait but I may have left it too late. I’m almost 42, never met the right person. I don’t think I’ll have any now but I’m okay with that.”

    "Oh, well I really want kids. I really do." She burst out. "I wanted four, but I don't know if I'll manage that."

    She told me she was thirty and her partner was six years younger than her and though they both wanted kids and she was really wanting them now, he was still young and she was waiting to see a specialist and she didn’t know what would happen or if she should wait or not. I could see her looking at me as example of what might happen if she waited too long. Shopping for one in my forties, my biggest decision of the day whether to pick up the lemon mint gum or not. I smiled. This was the first time I’d said out loud to anyone that I probably wouldn’t have kids now and I realised I really was okay with that and that her worst nightmare was perhaps my bliss and freedom. I have never specifically wanted kids.

    “You should get onto them about that specialist referral.” I told her. “He’s really cool.”

    “I will.” She said. And we exchanged some information about the medication we both took to combat what would otherwise be the wonky functions of our ovaries. Trolley packed I was leaving, an intensely personal conversation with a stranger, over in about four minutes of out of the blue chatter but I’d been touched by her candor. Surprised by my own.

    “Good luck.” I told her and as I walked out into the snow, I genuinely wished it for her.
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