VENDING MACHINE by AMY ACRE
Got off the overground at Dalston Junction. Had four minutes before connecting train continuing onward journey to Highbury & Islington. Was thirsty. Realised had had nothing to drink since waking up. Left platform to search for water or flavoured water. Immediately came upon three vending machines lined up side by side in large alcove behind stairwell. First vending machine had only flavoured water. No longer wanted flavoured water as too sugary and need to be healthy now. Second vending machine had crisps and Mars bars and Snickers and Toffee Crisp and other chocolate bars have trained self not to see. Third vending machine had low-calorie coconut and vanilla flavoured popcorn and chocolate soya milk and coconut water and Marmite rice cakes and iced green tea with elderflower. Third vending machine was the substantiation of ideal or utopian vending machine, offering wide range of enticing low-calorie snacks and drinks with the perfect balance of nutrition and flavour. Train coming in three minutes. Chocolate soya milk £1. Iced green tea with elderflower £1.60. Wanted soya milk. Chose green tea as thinner and transparent and green and therefore healthier. Put £2 in slot. Pressed buttons for green tea. Vending machine screen said ‘NO CHANGE, PLEASE CHOOSE AGAIN’. Pressed buttons again. Vending machine screen said ‘NO CHANGE, PLEASE CHOOSE AGAIN’. Pressed buttons for soya milk. ‘NO CHANGE, PLEASE CHOOSE AGAIN’. Pressed buttons for soya milk again. ‘NO CHANGE, PLEASE CHOOSE AGAIN’. Train coming in one minute. Stared angrily at vending machine. Pressed coin return button. No coins returned. Pressed coin return again. No coins. Pressed and held coin return. Pressed buttons for coconut water. ‘£2.20. PLEASE INSERT COINS.’ Pressed buttons for soya milk. For green tea. For coin return. Watched train pull out of platform. Stared angrily at machine. Walked upstairs to station barriers. Spoke to young staff member at barriers, who said didn’t have key, was separate company renting space in station. Stared angrily at young staff member. Staff member followed me down to vending machine. Both stared at vending machine, no longer showing £2. Staff member again said didn’t have key, separate company. Staff member pointed out vending machine company phone number on glass. Questioned if call would cost more than £2 lost in vending machine. Staff member didn’t know. Staff member asked if had a landline. Said no although name still on BT account at flat so technically both do and don’t have landline. Both stared at vending machine. Said had missed train. Staff member apologised. Next train coming in twelve minutes. Staff member said would ask superior and went upstairs. While staff member upstairs, stared angrily at vending machine. Pressed buttons indiscriminately. Checked coin return. Checked dispenser drawer. Pressed buttons for soya milk. ‘NO CREDIT. PLEASE INSERT COINS.’ Kicked vending machine carefully. Nothing happened. Kicked vending machine again. Kicked vending machine harder. Realised had wanted to kick something all week. Put weight into it and kicked with whole body against glass which was not glass but more like plastic or Perspex or unknown transparent material. Kicked harder. Material did not break. Kicked again and kicked again and kicked with leg with hip with pelvis, kicked with liver with spleen no longer saw trains or platform or people only kicked and kicked again and again and again and was kicking face of estate agent from previous Thursday, was kicking table in HR office and suitcase with broken handle and hand with broken nail and nail where picture taken from wall by Aidan and most of all was kicking Aidan in his stupid broken face in his transparent unknown material face in his ‘NO CREDIT. PLEASE INSERT COINS’ face was kicking whole unknown material life in face in face and kicked and kicked again and no trains and no coins and no soya milk and no landline and kicked and kicked and dent in Perspex in glass in unknown material in life and kicked and kicked and young staff member and older staff member now at side and one arm each and shoving and twist and down and floor and ground and sick and air and ground and ground and shake and scrape and down and stop and shhhh and calm down please miss and crowd and shhhh and ground and ground and ground and stop and stop and shhhh and ground and ground and ground and ground and ground.
***Amy Acre is a writer and performer from London. Her pamphlet, Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads, was published by flipped eye and selected as a PBS 2015 Pamphlet Choice. Her work has appeared in Poetry Review, Magma and 3am Magazine, on Sky News and the London Underground. She’s performed at Latitude, Secret Garden Party and the Edinburgh Fringe, and held poetry workshops in forests and schools. She co-hosted the monthly open mic night Sage & Time, which ran from 2010 to 2013. Amy likes lists, noodle soup, existentialism, hugs and swearing.*****
Visit her web site at: amyacre.org
Amy tweets at: @copyslut