The Price Of Bread

I am a man holding onto a faith in the story of his own destiny, so like a salmon following its instincts, I attempt the waterfall of life because that is our duty I understand!Apart from working, I get through my day, accepting my lot and looking for light in any situation: all good and bad, you know the score, and so it would have continued if something like connection had not lifted its skirt and flashed a beguiling glimpse of thigh at a man parched of every nuance of intimacy.

The conversation was innocuous enough: we both liked the same kind of bread, and she was the cashier at the shop where I purchased it. “Life on this planet would cease to be as we know it if they stopped making this bread” I told her, and, amazingly she replied, “I know. I love it too: the seeds, the texture and that maltiness.” Astonished by this shared passion I continued, “Even without butter it speaks to me. Just the texture and those seeds: yes. It’s so amazing,” Again she agreed.

I am past my prime, and just beginning to discover what chronic ill health means when mixed with declining vigour and a limited budget but a primal longing surfaced from inside me and, noticing she had no wedding ring, I asked her, “Are you married or involved in a long term relationship involving catering and moments of intimacy?” Her face changed colour somewhat, and  she became slightly “Arch” if you follow me. Clearly I had stepped outside that circle of generalities which define the conversational norms for casual acquaintances.

I’d had a sense of manners once: perhaps my mother had taught it to me, or I’d picked it up from watching films. I remember a Polish film about a man who is dying from a stab wound in his back, and spends his final moments holding the door to the Out-Patients department open at the local hospital saying “After you” to some lady suffering from a sprained wrist: “After you” turned out to be his final words. The film was in sub-titles and with music which made little sense to me but you get the idea. I learnt that, as a last resort, being polite prevents you from being barred from that club called “Casual Connections,” where I’d spent most of my social life.

“Being polite” was my last card in the pack, but this unknown lady, who shared a sense of the pleasure you could gain from a single slice of bread, offered up the promise of a new dawn and hinted that something deeper was still possible. Suddenly I was saying, “Are you married or cohabiting with a fellow human being, or possibly a hamster or a cat, with whom you share wardrobe space and a similar taste in television programmes?” Alright I agree the “Hamster or cat” bit might have been a little bit “Out there”, but that’s what comes from being a failed lawyer among other things. 

By now she was backing away from the till, and saying “One pound ninety-eight,” which was the price of this hallowed product. I said nothing more to her but offered up the correct change. At that point the manager, possibly seeing her discomfort, walked over and said, looking at her, “Is everything alright here,” and I said, “Fine, I was just reminding her that we didn’t know each other.” before turning to leave the shop. I wonder if they sell this bread anywhere else.

About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells, Romance and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The Price Of Bread

  1. Ah, yes, the problems that come with misreading a situation. And, indeed, the inherent problem of politeness being mistaken for interest. Nicely written, Peter.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. beth says:

    ah, the unexpected spark of hope that arises from an unexpected connection, not always the same level of potential imagined on both sides

    Liked by 1 person

  3. catterel says:

    Your poor bumbling hero – is he suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, I wonder? I think he has made a few other appearances prior to this, dogged by bad luck. Thanks for the chuckle, Peter!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Scarlet says:

    Perfect! I hope our hero finds his bread elsewhere – it’s one thing to give up on the hope of human connection, quite another to give up a favourite bakery product.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Robin says:

    You ha me hooked (ha!) with your very first sentence! Another brilliant read!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jack Eason says:

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    #from Peter


  7. Jack Eason says:

    Been there. Did that a few years back. I hate embarrassment at the best of times. Which is why I live alone….


  8. Very enjoyable read…love it.

    Liked by 1 person

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