June 28, 2015

or “An ‘Annihilation’ inspired short story”.

He blinked and saw himself in his old life. He blinked again so it would go away and he could return to whatever he was doing at the time. Let’s just say it didn’t work. He was still there, in that same old green-blueish lit supermarket he went twice or three times a week, walking pointlessly across the aisles looking for bread. Then another thought hit him: if he had just arrived, how could he possibly know he was looking for bread? While this mental conversation developed, he strolled to one of the store’s corners where, he knew, the bread would be. I guess his old memories were taking over.

It was a Saturday evening, slightly after sundown. The supermarket was almost empty, with some other customers walking up and down and grabbing their groceries. None of them bothered with him. The blue-green soft and contrastless tone of the lighting striked him as timeless, as if the world had stopped but that place kept on living a loop. He felt trapped, and not in a bad way. That was comfortable. It was familiar. He’d been there so many times – countless, really – over the years that it had a prickle of home. He stared at the several shelves filled with many types and brands of bread. Which one was the most suitable to the occasion? But then again, what occasion? I couldn’t decide between 7-Grain or Raisins and Cinnamon. He took both. His shopping cart was at the other side of the store. No, it wasn’t that big actually, but the space felt endless in that first blink, like he’d walked for hours to cover the first half of the way.

I stared down at the cart and an inner voice said to take just the 7-Grain because he already had plenty of sweet-tasting food there. Apple and Cinnamon, I mean, Raisins and Cinnamon looked so good he could almost taste it. “Well, whatever. I’m only staying for two days, it’s not like I’ll eat two packs of bread”. With a grunt, he pushed the cart about halfway to the bread shelves and left it there while he returned those supposedly delicious and soft loaves to their original place. Upon returning he noticed his cart had filled up with stuff I didn’t remember getting. Even more oddly, all of the new products fit my restrictive diet and came from several different aisles, as if there was someone else there with him.

The idea of having some company made him remember he didn’t use to come here alone. Actually, he almost never came here by himself. This filled me with a sort-of-new-sort-of-old warm and joyful feeling of not-being-alone in a distant past, almost like another life. I saw blurry shapes moving around the aisles, coming from my memory. But there was no one there with him like there used to be. It was just him and his half-filled, diet-specific, short-lived shopping cart.

Even as he walked to the checkout I felt like that experience would start over as soon as I crossed the double glass doors to the street outside. As soon as he blinked, I’d be there again, in that corridor, looking for bread and knowing the supermarket as the palm of my hands – which is a bizarre metaphor, for I don’t know the palm of my hands so well. Fortunately (?) that didn’t happen when he walked out the door. It was like tapping into a mix of memories and current time, nostalgia and reality clashing in an epic battle across a familiar supermarket’s aisles, which was over as soon as he crossed the double glass doors. I was still with my parents, walking home and preparing for another journey.