Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Yesterday I went to Asda...

Yesterday I went to Asda and threw a cloak of darkness around myself. I walked the aisles, checking prices and feeling the weight of various products. I lifted them to my cowled face and sniffed them, thinking simultaneously about their cost, the plastic wrappers, the labels, the processing, the transport. All things considered, this supermarket is more miraculous than my cloak of darkness. But I did not tell that to the check out girl. In any case she couldn't have seen me and was too busy to be concerned.

I could have walked out of there with a dozen products tucked under my arms, but that's not an allowed thing. Not even for cloak wearers, and even especially not for cloak wearers. To walk in your own darkness is an honour and a trial. To cease existing for a few minutes and sense the world all about you come into a focus so sharp that it burns your mind like a flame of magnesium.

The check out girl seemed as if she might be of Vietnamese origin. She greeted clients with an authoritative air and at the same time gave instructions to the young woman behind her. This woman might have been a manager in training. She wore a special uniform and she was gingerly peeking inside a large and well stocked cigarette cabinet which she had just slid open. It was the size of a bedroom wardrobe and stocked floor to ceiling.

I took my opportunity and crossed to the cabinet to pick up some of the packets and read their labels: "Smoking Kills"; "Smoking clogs the arteries and causes heart attacks and strokes"; "Smoking seriously harms you and others around you"; "Smoking when pregnant harms your baby"; "Smokers die younger". I lifted a packet into the air and watched it crumble into ash in my fingers. It burned so quickly and stealthily that I had to drop it and stamp it out. The shop assistants were somewhat startled to see the sudden flurry of raining ashes. I wondered why the warnings on the packets were now hidden away like guilty secrets. I pondered their invisibility and what it meant.

When I walked outside, I felt a surge of warm air greet me, though it was late in October. Brown and orange leaves danced gaily in their new found freedom and a plastic bag picked itself up and marched across the parking lot. It was warmer outside the supermarket than inside. The only hint of explanation was the sky to the west which was turbulent and had a tint of red as if it were a pail of milk soured by a few drops of blood.

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