Don’t Say Brown, Say Hovis


The third aisle from the entrance contained the bread products.  And Sammy had been sent here by an older version of himself to get some brown.  He alternately respected and hated that variation of a theme upon Sammy whom he called Daddy, even though Sammy knew it was himself, not his father at all.  It was Sammy grown wrinkled, parchy and troubled.

He who had once twinkled in his youthful Mother’s eye had reached the superstore on foot, although many people took the car from where Sammy lived. Sammy loved the superstore. It was a superstar of a superstore, he thought, one full of goodies his pockets itched to get.

“Hey, Sammy!” shouted a checkout girl, as he arrived through the automatic doors.  It was Silena. He used to go out with Silena.  She was still sweet on him.  If Sammy was younger, he’d still be sweet on her. But times change.  He knew that times were already changing, even if they weren’t for Silena.

“I’ve been sent for some brown,” he shouted, as if Silena would be remotely interested.

“Don’t say Brown, say Hovis,” she shouted back, echoing some ancient TV advert that she shouldn’t have been old enough to remember.

He mimed a toast, self-raising his hand, and sipping at nothing, before passing into the third aisle. He’d get the bread first, then search for some more interesting goodies. He’d later use Silena’s checkout, even if it had a longer queue than the others.  Probably not wise to do so, as if calling up past emotions like bad ghosts.  Even future ghosts were bad, in Sammy’s world. He needed escapism.  Like superstore goodies to take home and enjoy.

He grabbed the first brown he saw. The superstore’s own ‘no frills’ brand, with plain packaging showing the slices through.  He then proceeded via the pet food aisle – dogs the dinners ate – and he laughed at his own crazy thoughts. Until he saw a tin that actually said on its label: “The Dog The Dinner Ate”.  Not an own brand, but an expensive looking brand. He had misread the label, he was sure, but he didn’t stop to check, as he sped on towards the aisle with the latest season’s frippery – whether it be Christmas decorations or Easter sweeties or Summer beach toys.

Silena was looking forward to clocking-off. The evenings were wearing thin especially as Fireworks Night was just around the Autumnal corner.  And her Mum would meet her and drive heer home in the family 4-by-4.  Girls weren’t safe out alone. 

A few desultory customers came through with only a few nondescript purchases to place on the moving-belt. Each bar-code swipe just one more automatic movement. Like the doors that hissed and swished with each last customer who left into the darkening.

Until possibly the very last last customer of all ambled into sight from between the sides of the Butchery aisle.  One could not really tell which was the last customer until there were no more.  And then Sammy – himself last – appeared with his hands full of Trick-or-Treat frippery. And one brown cut-loaf.

He needn’t have worried about choosing between queues. Business was so slack, only one checkout was open.  Even the delicatessen counter had already shut up shop and left for its own darkening and refrigerated overnight hum.

Silena silently swiped his purchases through as the moving-belt ground to a halt. And the automatic doors made their final hiss and swish as the last customer who made the successful bid to be the last customer actually became the last customer.

She watched a 4-by-4 drive off though the gloom from the disabled or parents-with-children slots of the superstore car park … barely seen from between the large window’s poster adverts for Bisto and Hovis and other makes that nobody made any more.

Her mother would be waiting at home. Her lonely mother with Silena’s wrinkled face.

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