Saturday, 12 November 2011

Mirrors of the soul

“What happens if a cat eats a poisoned mouse, a mouse poisoned in a mouse trap?” she thought about the possibility as she leaned on the supermarket cart and placed the cat foot carton on the metal grill of the base. She looked at her fingernails and paused; pillar-box red and not a chip, nice shape, she congratulated herself. Really she was just ambling around the shop, there was a purpose and a to do list but they were buried deep in other thoughts. She much preferred to think about how she was looking, how she felt, what clothes would do for her, how her hair could be coloured. She was thinking in that sea of swirling thought, nice warm imaginings, far away from the aisles and offers.

She tightened her grip around the cart's handle and heading out of pet foods passed the pasta and pulses and into soft drinks. She admired the fizzy, shiny can packages, shrink wraps and shapes but concentration was tough, how was her make up now? She could feel herself inside her clothes, as if she was a product, held in by this superfluous packaging; superfluous but it gave her a shape, held her in, helped to move and be an object, a discernible object in this shop, in this space, in this place. Her colours were all the separated her from the candy background, her shape made her distinct in these parallel shelves and piles of boxes. Her appearance defined her even if her thoughts contradicted, as they always did. “These contradictions are the breath of my life, these contradictions rise in my nostrils, rise and tickle the cortex of my brain, away hidden from drapes and appearance.” She moved across to the bakery, hot loaves were shoved into those open ended bags, she imagined flies and insects landing on the bread tips, she imagined but she could not see. Her shoes were now uncomfortable, she lifted her feet in them, let air move on her heels, the air that was bathing the bread, supermarket bread not real. Her heels, the heels of her shoes were not for this floor or this posture. She picket up a baguette, some pastries and felt the warmth as odours oozed out. “Must keep it away from the milk and the fruit – no warm contamination allowed in this cart.” At the deli pieces of cheese were lined up on the counter top on paper plates, you could try before you would buy. She picked up a piece, ignored the thoughts of the other foreign fingers that had dwelt on the plate and plopped it into her mouth, there was a slight lipstick mix moment which the cheese won.

“Three words, three words, three words I never hear him say, three words.” she was heading into the wine and spirits, offers running past with meaningless labels, red, rose and white. Three words. Bottles clinked in the cart against some cans and hard edges. “I love you”. These are the words I never hear him say. Toilet rolls and paper products, silly cosmetics, wasteful packaging repeated across items designed by graduates in marketing, applications and synthetic materials. She was feeling bullied by the shop, the whole shop was a bully, a bully experience. She decided just to let the cart spin slowly, on some invisible middle axis, around the columns of super wipe up super sucking super absorbent towels with hidden pockets of moisture gathering material that are designed to save your face, carpet, couch or floor in that awful embarrassing moment when someone spills a liquid nearby. Reach out and touch the answer, the answer to an embarrassing problem is the towel that gulps it all up or down. “And me I'm not young anymore, I'm not so pretty, I need these clothes, make up, to make me make up.” Swallowed by the mainstream, too much to lose by telling the truth.

She walked across to the coffee shop, she didn't quite recall the till or paying but the groceries were all bagged, almost neat in the trolley, ready to be transferred to the car, to the house, to the cupboard or fridge, to a plate, the mysterious dishwasher, the silver bin, the stomach or gut, the drain, the big black bag, the wheelie bin, the landfill. History buried under clay and plastic. Coffee made her feel better and she twiddled with her nails. Still perfect, still shiny after the shop, so different from inside her head. That place seemed ravaged by externals, eaten up by wolves. Words eaten by wolves, chewed and spat out as if never said. I love you is so hard. The coffee was good however and she was aware that she could study herself in a well placed cafe mirror, her reflection looked out the other way, looked at her nails and into her coffee, there in that other place, in that so separate place, untouchable from here and as backwards as a reflection in a puddle. That girl in there had other things on her mind, somewhere, earlier today she had heard the words “I love you”, across a pillow and through a mist of sleep. She turned, their eyes met, they both stared and picked up the coffee cup, they looked through, pupil to pupil over the white rims. The moment of recognition was in slow motion but over and done in a flash.

There are somethings you should do, there are some things you should never do, then there are other things. What could you say about looking straight into your own soul and what would you say? I love you?

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