- The counter assistant is busy today. The latest book of a popular author is selling well since it came out just last Monday. Today is Saturday. It's 2pm and he must have checked out at least 5 copies since he got back from his lunch break. He greets each customer cheerily and politely and they go away happy with their purchases or Christmas returns. He is aware of people around the aisles and knows that other assistants are ready to help if needed.
2. In the children's section, a girl in a pink velour tracksuit sits in an armchair with her legs curled up. She plays with her Rubik's cube. She has the red side and the white side done, but the other colours are mixed. She can see her little brother, in his jeans and T-shirt, looking at the selection of children's books. She thinks he is taking too long picking what he wants. He takes out book after book, looking then replacing before taking the next one. She carries on playing with the cube.
3. A man enters the store. He looks around at the shelf labels and sees the one he is looking for. On the way to the self-help section he passes a lady in a pale blue coat that just covers her knees. Her slender calves meet the top of her black ankle boots. She is eyeing the novels in the romance section.
4. The lady in the blue coat walks along the carpeted floor in her low-heeled black boots. The footsteps cannot be heard on the carpet. She finds the cookery and crafts section of the store and finds this more interesting than the romance novels.
5. The little boy in the Batman T-shirt finishes looking at the children's books. His face looks frustrated. He stands up, thinks, makes a decision, walks away from the children's section.
6. The counter assistant notices a little boy in jeans and a Batman shirt. The boy wanders past the counter and the assistant briefly wonders who is with him as he appears to be alone. A couple of girls come to the counter to pay for some teen magazines and he serves them. Behind them the queue is building again. He sells another of the new novels.
7. The man at the self-help section is looking at books that promise happiness if he will only follow what they tell him. He is puzzled at the apparent contradiction between the advice in some of the books. He wants them all to say the same thing so that he will know they are right. He likes what some of them say but not others.
8. The little boy in a Batman T-shirt wanders around the store. He feels a bit lost and is not sure what he is looking for. He sees a shelf labelled self-help. He thinks maybe he will find what he wants there. His feet in their trainers make no noise on the patterned carpet of the store as he walks up to the shelf. He sees the word happy on one of the titles and thinks that sounds good. He pulls the book from the shelf to inspect it.
9. The man looking at the self-help books is bemused as to why a child would be looking in those too, but he thinks that it is none of his business. He continues to look at the books on the shelf, occasionally pulling one from the shelf for a closer look before putting it back. He is wondering if he will ever find what he wants.
10. The girl curled in the armchair has now got the yellow and green sides of her cube done, but the red and white sides have got mixed up. She sighs. She stayed up too late last night reading Harry Potter and she is tired. Her eyes droop and close.
11. The counter assistant serves a lady in a blue coat. She has chosen a book about making flavoured liqueurs. He thinks it looks interesting and says so. The woman smiles and agrees, her glossy auburn curls bobbing by her face. She leaves the counter but does not leave the shop yet. She heads towards the children's section where she can see the pink headband that matches her daughter's tracksuit. She approaches her daughter but cannot see her son. Her daughter is asleep with a Rubik's cube at her side in the armchair. The woman shakes her daughter's shoulder to wake her. “Zanna, where is Vinnie?” she asks.
12. Zanna opens her eyes and glances across to the shelf of children's books. She does not see Vinnie. Tears well in her eyes as she looks back at her mother.
13. “Zanna, you know you were supposed to keep an eye on him. He was only 7 yesterday, for goodness sake! You should know... look we'll talk about this later. He can't have gone far. Stay here.”
The woman flags down a passing store assistant to ask for help. The store assistant checks the security cameras and sees Vinnie. Vinnie is talking to a stranger at the self-help section. Mum and the store assistant head towards the self-help section.
14. Vinnie has got talking with the man in the self-help section. The man knows that it was Vinnie's birthday yesterday and that Vinnie has no money. He is amused by Vinnie's assumption that self-help means help yourself as in free. He means to be kind and buy him a birthday present. Vinnie and the man go to the children's section to choose just the right book.
15. Zanna sees the man coming towards her with Vinnie. She doesn't know who the man is but she is cross with Vinnie for getting her into trouble.
16. Mum and the store assistant get to the empty self-help section of the store. Mum looks stressed. The store assistant reassures her that another staff is watching the door so they know that Vinnie is still in here. She offers to take mum and Zanna to the staffroom while the staff track down Vinnie. They head back to Zanna and see Vinnie is there with her. Vinnie is excited that he will get a present from the man . Mum is relieved that Vinnie is found. Zanna hopes that mum will forget to be cross. The man realises some of what has happened and introduces himself. He says he is still happy to buy the book for Vinnie. Mum is surprised as Vinnie has a gift card. She asks Vinnie why he thought he could not pay for his book himself. Vinnie explains he has no money. Mum explains about gift cards.
Finale. “Oh!” exclaims Vinnie. “Now I know why you said to bring my birthday card out to the shops!” He goes back to the children's books and picks out a volume of Mr. Men stories. On the cover is a picture of Mr. Happy with some of his friends.
The counter assistant wishes Vinnie a happy birthday as Vinnie pays for his new book with his birthday card.