Beware of the bread aisle. [short story]

She’d spotted them in the bread aisle and before her logical brain had gotten a chance to tell her she should at least say “hi” and pretend to be happy to see them, she had instinctively turned the corner and was now standing in the condiments aisle, pretending to be deeply concerned with the ingredients of Tostitos chunky salsa.

“What’s wrong with you? Who runs away from their own friends!?” The logical side of her brain screamed so loudly that she could feel every word bouncing and banging against the insides of her skull.

She would have very much liked to have a great come-back after that snide remark but the thing was, that voice was right. Rude, but right. Of course she knew they were her friends but the thing was, they were the “long time no see” kind and she never knew what to do with those. After the “Wow, hi! Long time no see!” that is. She’d done it enough times to know that, from there on out, it could only go two ways and that both roads led you swiftly downhill. Road one is to immediately go into pointless smalltalk, which (generally) is pretty harmless but also utterly exhausting. The other is to stand there silently, just long enough for them to get uncomfortable enough to ask the question: “So what’s up with you?” on which you que instant regret over not having run away or gone for option one.

Where would she even start? She could tell them about where she’d been going to school but that would mean they’d ask about what she was going to do next and, even though she was okay with the not knowing, the uncertainty of her life seemed to give other people anxiety. So that was a no go. She could tell them about work, but that was just plain boring. All the stuff that actually mattered was way too deep for the bread aisle and they probably didn’t even care to know anyhow, so what the hell is one supposed to reply to that? It usually ended up just going something like, “oh, nothing much (furthest thing from the truth). I’m just back…”

“Emily? Is that you!?”

A high pitched squeal of excitement abruptly pulled her out of her imagine dialogue and dropped her headfirst back into reality. Still in the condiments aisle, still holding a jar of Tostitos. She gave their cart a quick glance and saw both tomatoes, ground beef and two packs of tortillas. Taco-night, and now they needed salsa. Of course I just had to run away to THIS aisle, it’s not like there are 50 other ones around or anything. Now even the ego side of her brain reprimanded her, and again, she had no come-back.

“Oh hi Emma, hi, Julie!” She gave each of them a hug since she figured that’s what you do with these long time no see- friends.

“Wow, when did I last see you? Last Christmas? It’s been so long, I can’t even remember!” said Julie with a big smile on her face.

Paraphrased, but still counts, Emily thought.

“What are you up to? You getting some salsa?” Emma gave the Tostitos jar a judgemental look. “I’m not one to yuck another one’s yum or anything, but if I were you I’d put that jar away as quickly as humanly possible and grab one of these instead” (she affectionately picked up a jar by the brand Frontera) “if you’re into fruity, the mango key lime one is especially heavenly!”

Julie jokingly put on an apologetical smile and said “please excuse my friend over here. She did indeed yuck your yum but, to her defence, she does know her salsa.”

Emily chuckled. “Oh, that’s alright. Mr Tostitos and I were just getting acquainted, so that fare warning from fellow lady friends came just at the right time. I trust your judgement.” She put the Tostitos salsa back on the shelf and grabbed a jar of Frontera. She’d have to circle around and put it back later. She couldn’t stand fruity salsa.

Both girls giggled loudly. They had always been a bit over enthusiastic like that. Still, this all seemed to be going surprisingly well. If the only thing she had to do to get through this interaction was lie about salsa, she’d count it as the win of the week.

“You were always a funny one, Emily”, said Emma. “Nothing’s changed there”.

Everything else has changed.

Emily had only gotten lost in thought for a second or two, but turns out it only takes two seconds to go from winner to looser.

“So, what’s been up with you?”

I was planning on giving a “long time no see” update and realized that this whole coming back to blogging- thing felt about as confusing as meeting a friend you haven’t seen in a while, and so instead of updating you I ended up writing a story about how I don’t really like doing it and very much like avoiding it. I’ll get to the update next time. Maybe.

//Hanna

2 thoughts on “Beware of the bread aisle. [short story]

  1. Dave Williams says:

    Ah, the awkwardness of small talk with people you haven’t seen in a while. Well, awkward to some of us. I’ve chatted with some people who seem very much at ease with quickly coming up with conversational questions — and I’ve wondered how they do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hanna Streng says:

      Yeah same! I mean I honestly don’t even think I’m that terrible at it, I just find it kind of exhausting and annoying when I know there’s so many actually important things I’d love to talk about 😅

      Liked by 1 person

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