Jo looks overwhelmed by the pile of groceries that I stack on the conveyor belt for her inspection. She looks extremely tired. Close to haggard, her face holds a million rivers that zigzag across her skin. For a long while she doesn't say anything to me. And I don't say anything back. I just keep putting my food on the black belt for her to register what I am buying and wonder if she is keeping stock of the all the deals that I managed to seek out on my trip to the store. Does she notice the Chinese Five Spice and Bok Choy that I bought and that with some Organic beef in my trolley, I am more than likely planning to throw a quick Spag together for tonights dinner? Tossed Salad. Probably not. Products become invisible when you see them everyday. Once I move on down to start bagging the food, I attempt to open up a conversation, ask her how she is doing. Jo sighs before opening up and then, for a moment I think she is about to cry.
''I had a lonely Christmas,''' she says, ''I was snowed in.''
''Oh, that's awful,'' I say and attempt to understand her as she goes on to tell me that she is practically retired and only works two days a week now but how she really misses the work. Her sisters live not far from her, three miles, but she could not get to see them all over the holidays because of the ice on the road that leads from her house to theirs.
I knew that, when she was younger, she had lived in the US for a long time and so I tell her that I am going there soon. Her face brightens and she is all questions, her face animated with the memory of her past life. I gather she regrets her return to this country. There is nothing here for her. Jo drowns in regret.
Nadia is someone I have not met, never seen, but I hug the television screen for any word, a glimmer of her survival from underneath a bed of rubble in Haiti. Nadia drown in rubble when four floors of a shopping centre collapsed with her in it. She has not had water for forty eight hours. Rescue crews can speak to her but attempts to reach her have proved futile. I hang on to every word to do with Nadia. I will Nadia to survive. Nadia's survival will return my faith.
Another woman drowns in her thoughts and allows them to infiltrate and suffocate her. There is no rubble or ice or endless conveyor belts or nights alone in a darkened house. She tries with all her might to sift through what the invisible rubble presents and feels overwhelmed by her own lack of will. She realises that there are all kinds of rubble to contend with, that it is possible to construct our own rubble. So, what about Nadia's rubble? Nadia did not create her rubble. But, Nadia is strong, the woman believes that, that in the darkness and the blood and the horrible echo of voices that come to her in a garbled, distant way, what seems like a million miles from her and a million miles from the woman drowning in her thoughts that Nadia will survive. Nadia has to survive. She has to.