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Drama Romance Lesbian

I finally ventured out to the grocery store, and what did I get? They played that song – her song. Damn it! On that ill-fated road trip, our last one, she insisted that we play it like a gazillion times, her singing echoing through the car. Now, every time I heard it, the memories came rushing back, like an unwelcome guest crashing through the door of my mind. I put on my black Sony noise-cancelling headphones to block out the sound. 

I couldn’t believe Julia wasn’t by my side anymore, arguing passionately about whether we should splurge on the expensive pasta. My fingers, which were clutching the cart’s handle, turned white, as if trying to hold on to something that was slipping through my grasp. Even with my headphones on, the lyrics echoed in my head, mingling with the memories of her laughter, and I couldn’t help but think she’s just a phone call away, that I would hear her voice again soon. That any minute now, she would walk around the aisle with that mischievous grin of hers, like she always did when she had a surprise in store. 


I’m losing my head tryna hold on to something, something, Fletcher crooned, in the store, and in my mind, and I felt like I was unravelling. 


I noticed the store worker looking directly at me. Her lips were moving, so I begrudgingly took off my headphones. 

“Ma’am, are you okay?”

I was snapped out of my daze. I looked down to see the bottle of tomato sauce I’d been holding had slipped through my trembling fingers, its rich, red contents oozing onto the floor. My feet were covered in the cold tomato sauce – or was it blood? – resulting in an odd mix of sensations: cool, slimy, and uncomfortable. Wait, why am I barefoot? 

“I’m... I’m fine,” I stammer, but the truth is, I’m far from it.

I miss you, I hate it

Somebody had come to clean up the mess I made. The song continued, its melodies taking me back to the road trip once more, the winding roads, and the final destination we never did reach. 

It all felt like a dream, or rather a never-ending nightmare. I could still hear the screams. 


I know we said forever, but I guess we lied, Fletcher’s voice trailed off, and I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. 

***

I moved to the alcohol aisle, leaving red footsteps in my wake. Picking up booze supplies was definitely the most crucial part of my outing. I knew I shouldn’t have been relying on alcohol to get by, but I just couldn’t help it. Then I saw it. The orange bottle of Ruffino prosecco – Julia’s favourite. I sighed, grabbed four bottles of my go-to Cabernet Sauvignon instead, which she hated, and moved on. 

But traces of her were all around me and it seemed there was no escape. The familiar coffee blend she insisted on, never open to trying different brands, or even other blends of her chosen brand. Those breakfast bars she had a penchant for, leaving crumbs all over the house. And over there, the salmon she always picked, even though I never cared for it. I clenched my jaw, trying to push the rage down, but it’s like trying to stop a flood with a single sandbag. I was just so incredibly angry. If she had been here now, she would have encouraged me to use my feelings wheel. ‘Are you really angry, Brooke,’ she’d say, ‘or are you upset? Or maybe you’re feeling abandoned?’ 

You know what, Julia? I am fucking angry, okay?! It’s a valid emotion. I’m angry you’re gone, and that I have to do the grocery shopping on my own. I’m furious about everything we’ve lost. I’m enraged at you for so many things, but most of all, I’m angry at myself. 

I noticed an elderly lady staring at me in confusion. I realised that tears were streaming down my face. Did I say any of that out loud? 

***

Julia would have been right, though – I’m wrestling with abandonment too, amidst this tumultuous sea of emotions. Feelings are so fucking complicated, and most of the time I don’t feel like I’m equipped to deal with any of them. Julia was so good at helping me with that. Now, without her, I felt lost, and was exhausted by the constant struggle of trying to make sense of it all.

The bustling aisles of the supermarket felt like a labyrinth of memories. Each product, each scent, seemed to carry a piece of our shared history. And then, unexpectedly, I heard a voice, ostensibly addressed to me.

“Would you like to taste some cheese?” 

Once again, I was pulled out of my reverie. The woman at the cheese tasting station held out an inviting plate of a selection of cheeses, paired with a wide smile – her teeth glistening in the bright lights of the supermarket. 

I took a toothpick and started trying some of what she had on offer. The creamy brie, rich and indulgent, melted on my tongue, and I was transported back to the many cheese and wine evenings Julia and I shared. I remembered the laughter, our playful banter, and invigorating conversations that would linger long into the night. I recalled the way it felt when she looked at me, her eyes full of love. And I just couldn’t help but think: if only we had more time. If only I had done or said the right thing, when I had the opportunity. But it was too late now. 

“Would you like to buy some?”

I blinked, feeling as though I had been yanked into the present moment like a drowning person, gasping for air. The cheese-tasting attendant awaited my response, her smile patient and inviting.

“Sorry, what?”

“Cheese,” she repeated. “Would you like to buy some of the cheese?”

I cleared my throat and took a deep breath, the lump of nostalgia slowly dissipating. “Oh, uhm, yeah,” I stammered. “I’ll take the brie, thanks.”

***

I trudged my trolley further through the store, determined to check off the last few items on my list before retreating back to the safety of my cocoon, this time with extra supplies. But then, I caught a whiff of something familiar in the air. It immediately sent my heart plummeting and made the hairs on my arms stand on end. Orchids. Her favourite plant. 

I bought one for her birthday a few years back. She cherished that plant, or Greta – as she had named it – as if it was her baby. The memory of it rushed back now, vivid and poignant. 

I suddenly realised how weary I had become. I just needed to finish my shopping and retreat to the shelter of my home. Come on Brooke, you can do it! 

This solitary excursion had drained me more than I had expected. Yet, in an odd and seemingly contradictory way, I found a strange comfort in the limited social interactions I’d had today.

Ever since Julia’s absence, I had felt like a hollow vessel, devoid of joy or enthusiasm for anything. The world had lost its colour, and I often found myself wrestling with relentless fatigue. Sleep was elusive, and my nights were filled with restless tosses and turns. 

The orchid’s scent still lingered, and the weight of her absence bore down on me as I stood there in the store, a silent witness to the daily life I now navigated alone. When will it stop hurting? 

***

I reached the checkout counter and started unpacking my groceries, each with its own painful connection to Julia. The cashier scanned each item with robotic efficiency, beaming at me warmly, oblivious to the storm brewing inside me. I forced a tight smile, pretending that everything was normal, that my world hadn’t been shattered into a million pieces.

I wanted to scream, to hurl these groceries across the store, to let the world know how much I was hurting. Instead, I calmly grabbed the bags and headed for the exit with heavy steps. 

And that’s when I heard her voice. It cut through me like a bolt of lightning. 

“Hey Brooke, how are you?” Breezy as always. 

I turned around slowly. There she was, beautiful Julia, the love of my life. Well, former. Was I dreaming? 

“I’ve been worried about you,” she continued, “you haven’t returned any of my messages. Are you doing okay?”

“Oh, yeah, just been busy. But I’m all good. How about you?” I tried keeping it as jaunty as I could, too. 

“Are you sure?” She paused briefly, then pressed on. “Why are you barefoot? And is that… blood, or-”

“Oh, that’s nothing. I guess I, uh, forgot to put shoes on. And it’s not blood, just tomato sauce, or at least I hope so.” I laughed nervously. 

“Hmmm, okay.” She cleared her throat, and it felt like she wanted to shift the conversation away from small talk, to cut right to the chase. 

I opted to tackle the issue head-on, to confront the elephant in the room. “Yeah, uhm, I guess I’ve been having a bit of a difficult time, if I’m being honest. I mean, we had a long history, and it’s quite an adjustment. And,” I hesitated, “I, well, miss you.”

I could see her eyes softening, her lips curl in a slight smile, and she opened her arms, the familiar gesture melting my heart. I nodded in soft agreement, and she enveloped me in a hug that felt as potent as the first time we embraced. Her arms around me were the warm, reassuring touch I’d longed for.

Eventually, we pulled away. She was the first to speak. 

“You know, I still care about you. I always will. Maybe we should organise a hang or something? Talk things through? I’d love it if we could be friends.” 

Friends. Like a dagger through my heart. She must have seen the hurt on my face, as she quickly continued, “Come on, Brooke, you know we can’t salvage our relationship after what happened. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. I still want you in my life.”

She was right, of course. Too much had transpired, and the pain we had inflicted on each other was irreversible. But I’d like to think that we could both at least learn from the mistakes we’ve made, and that, when the time came, we wouldn’t repeat them with other people. 

With a resigned but hopeful smile, I replied, “I think that’s a good idea, Jules. Yes, I’d like that.”

As we stood there in the grocery store, people shuffling around us, I sensed a subtle but evident change in me. It was as if a crack of light had appeared in the darkness of my sorrow. While the scars would linger, I dared to believe they might one day lose their sting.


October 06, 2023 21:06

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4 comments

04:49 Oct 11, 2023

What a gripping emotional scene. I felt relieved that she seemed to have a revelation at the end and could move on to a new beginning. Clever to have this at the supermarket, and have a stream of nostalgic tastes and smells from her broken relationship come to her.

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05:51 Oct 11, 2023

Thank you very much for reading, Scott, and for leaving your thoughts. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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Mary Bendickson
17:44 Oct 10, 2023

I was convinced Julia was gone, gone for good as in a horrific accident. But no it was something else. So a slight twist. Suspenseful and full of senses. Thanks for liking my Gift.

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05:50 Oct 11, 2023

That's what I was going for, so I'm glad, haha :) Thanks for reading, Mary!

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