There were two difficult things to do about it.
Take the decision to go out, and put the groceries into the bag quickly enough.
Today, there was no choice, nothing more to eat than a few slices of bacon, some butter, and a tiny promotional can of soda that a friend brought the day before. He had to go.
He took a deep breath in and put his shoes on. Another one to put his coat on. And another to open the door of his flat. A minute later, he was closing the glass door of his building.
Step one: sucess. He was outside.
It was a bit cold because of the wind, but still, the sun was giving a nice colour to the sky and to the clouds. The trees were beautifully lit, looking like they were the source of the autumn golden light of this late afternoon.
He felt alive. He felt like he was able to do anything. He felt like he was a character from a book or a movie.
There was a bit of traffic on his way to the supermarket. Not that it was a problem for him, he was walking, but those people had a real life, he thought. They have a job. They have people to come back to. They can go to places during the week-end. They can go to parties.
Now he was in the small pedestrian area which lead to the supermarket. There were nice houses there. Small, but nice. Some of them had a window open, some had the light on. Again, he was imagining the people living in there.
That little living room had a lot of bookshelves, and was decorated in a modern way so he imagined someone young, someone who wanted to escape from home when he was very young, he worked a lot and read a lot and had been able to leave, to have his own home, and now he was living with all of his books, the friends who made him keep sane. The friends who made him. He didn’t need room to party in there, he had his books.
That other house’s kitchen was a bit quaint, but with bright colours. There was candy on the counter. He thought about a woman with her young child. The father had left years ago. She was over it now, but it had been hard. Being alone with the baby, feeling depressed, feeling overwhelmed, feeling useless and stupid. Now she was better, and those last weeks, she even had someone she fancied, maybe it would work. She liked to cook with the child, they laughed together, the child licking the chocolate on the whisk, putting some on her or his nose.
He was almost in the supermarket, but he was still calm.
Warm air rushed around him as he entered the place. It was too hot. He was dressed for the cold from outside, and for a minute, he felt already sweaty, almost feverish.
Then he was on the escalator, and he briefly smiled, a ridiculous elevator music playing on his mind. It was like a break between the rythm of the walk here and the hurry of the shopping. He looked at the lucky people who were already finished with this, on the other escalator. There was a young woman with a child, maybe she was living in the house with the kitchen.
He glanced at the guard before grabbing a basket. He was probably judging him, but he was determined not to care about people judging him.
He actually liked the place. He liked shopping at the supermarket, looking at all the things there were here, imagining where he could put that nice alarm-clock, or what he could do in that salad bowl, or watching that DVD drinking some coffee in that mug. His problem was the people.
Sometimes, on the worst days, it was easier to just pretend he was somebody else. Acting. The supermarket was his stage, and the people his audience.
He was that bookworm with the tea, the books, and the cookies.
He was that guy living with his girlfriend with the TV program, some vegetables and chicken nuggets.
He was that fanboy with a magazine and a toy from his favourite series, tinned beans and toast boxes, custard and a fish fingers pack.
He was that poor boy who just got dumped by his girlfriend with the chocolate spread, the brioche and the two-liter bottles of Coke.
He was that young man who liked to party, with the cider, the crisps and the sauce.
Today he was himself. Almost. Being amongst people he didn’t know was always kind of a performance. In the basket he put cookies, chicken nuggets, custard, Coke and cider.
Only things starting with a C, he noticed with a smile. Maybe he should take some carrots.
It was time to check out.
His nape was tickling, prickling. He was hot and sweating. His breath was short.
He was trying to reassure himself. What could happen ? Nothing. Nothing ever happened to him, why would it start now ? He was waiting behind a woman with only a few articles, already hoping that she would take them fast enough so it wouldn’t be awkward between them. So he wouldn’t be close enough that she would realise he was uncomfortable, wouldn’t be close enough that she would smell him. Because he probably stank by now, he was sure of it. He should get his card off his wallet, now. Did he forget something ? No. Maybe, he couldn’t remember what he wanted to buy. He really should make a list. The lady before him was leaving, now. He put away his card so he could give his things to the cashier. How should he give the stuff to make things easier ? He was so nervous he was now clumsy. Passing the detectors, he had a higher adrenaline rush (he had multpiple ones when checking out, when someone talked to him, when there was someone waiting behind him, when he realised he forgot something…), even though he hasn’t stolen anything and never would. Now the worst part, although no one was behind him today. Putting his stuff in the shopping bag fast enough so he wasn’t a problem for anyone. Sometimes he stopped three meters away from check-out to arrange things like he intended to, when he had been in too much of a hurry to do so at first. Now, the card. Where was it ? Did he lose his card ? No, it was in the wallet. The machine took a little time to process it. Was he overdrawn ? No, it was okay. The card was back in the wallet, safe from potential thieves. Now he could leave. Goodbye, he said, with a shy smile. He was fine. He had food, and he was going home.
He was safe.