Vegetarian Cottage Pie

It happened in the supermarket. Every day, getting food for the evening because it’s impossible to know what to eat the following day. And each day follows its predecessor in being drab, slow and cold. Then the back of your throat begins to pinch with a faint, itchy ache. And you’re in the frozen food section. Then you aren’t there any more. The brightest light surrounds you and you can hear this music and it’s warm. There are voices too but you can’t hear them so much as feel them. They are there but not in your face. And they aren’t preaching. It’s as though whatever ‘they’ are want to check that it’s okay for you to hang around. For a few seconds there is nothing to see; this light, it’s blinding but it does not pinch the back of your eyes. It seems to hug you. And, embarrassingly, you want to cry. Someone knows that you’re stuck on what to buy and they want you to know that they understand. That life can be cruel sometimes and that they, the Gods of the convenience of modern life, are right there with you. You feel reassured. The pocket with your wallet in it seems to twitch with effervescence, with joy. Thousands of images of meal choices flick through your brain, as though being downloaded. And it’s all so clear now. You realise, for the first time in what has seemed like a lifetime, what it is you want for dinner. Like a miracle, you begin to get ideas about pudding too. And, as the light fades and part of you grieves for it, wants it to return, you are reassured that now, at long last, the supermarket is no longer a pit of hell. It’s an expansive and joyous universe in which to navigate your trolley like a brave astronaut. And, paying for your stuff, the checkout beeps in a way that seems both congratulatory and, at the same time, reassuring.

As you leave through the exit, the portal of easy living, it’s with a small sense of insecurity. But you feel less nervous about the big, wide world knowing, at last, that there is somewhere you can be the master of your own destiny.

As you drive out of the car park and down the road, watching the supermarket lights fade in the rear view mirror, you enter a renewed world. And you know you’ve founded a new church with the receipt as your bible and the ready-meal your saviour.

Then you remember that the girl at the checkout was bleeding from empty eye sockets and chewing on a small animal; you lose control, swerve around a bend you never saw and crash the car into a wall. As the wreckage smokes, a plastic bag, with the supermarket’s logo emblazoned across it, floats past your windscreen and you fix your eyes upon it until the world turns to black.

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