tagRomanceBryan & Carla after the Supermarket

Bryan & Carla after the Supermarket

bySpencerfiction©

Notes

This is a continuation of "The Supermarket", the short story of Bryan and Carla, and their daughter Brie. The original was written as a one-off story and is complete within itself, so I have left it intact. If you are coming to this series blind, and you want this new episode to make sense, then I suggest you read "The Supermarket" first.

However, I do love the characters and felt there was some mileage in continuing their story, particularly looking at it from one or two different points of view. The original was a third person narrative, this fresh look at the scene is a first person reflective, in the form of a one-sided explanation to her mother. Carla and her mother are the only females in a household dominated by a builder father and 4 bulky sons' therefore I have taken a modern view that the mother and daughter here have, in some circumstances at least, a sisterly relationship of sounding out issues before they happen and open discussions of living with consequences, very much like my sister and her only daughter in a heavily male environment.

This is the first of possibly a 2 or 3 part story, looking at the supermarket meeting from Carla's point of view.

In the second part I will look at the BBQ from Bryan's viewpoint, which might be sufficient to fill in all the gaps.

If I decide the story needs some conflict (and most do) I will introduce that next time and create a conclusion, probably in a third party narrative. These other parts have not yet been written so may follow with perhaps a week interval between each of them.

Always delighted to get feedback. Many thanks in advance for reading.


*****

1. CARLA AT THE SUPERMARKET

All right, Mum, I'll start at the beginning, but no interruptions, please. This is hard enough as it is and if you ask any questions, I will falter and collapse back into tears again. OK? Thank you, I love you so much.

I knew I would bump into Bryan at the supermarket eventually, but coming only a few hours after seeing him from a distance last night felt, well, a bit spooky. You'd left for work this morning so I didn't get a chance to tell you I saw him last night. Yes, really, he was sitting down in one of those booths along one side of the Fisherman's Arms, with his old mates Jack, Harry and Ginger. He was sort of scrunched up in the corner, his mates gathered round him, so I could really only see his gorgeous face. Yes, Mum, he still is and yes, I still think the world of him ... I always will. I never have and never will consider Brie was anyone's fault but mine.

So, in the supermarket early this afternoon, I could see him walking around. No, not changed really, still tall, slim but more muscular, uh uh, yep, he carries himself with poise. The nearest way I can describe it is that he walks loose-limbed like a cat. His hair's still cut short, so my first guess was that he was here to see his father while he was on leave from the Army.

You know that's why he rarely dated as a teenager, he was too full of the Army Cadets, two evenings a week and off on camp during most weekends in the summer and about monthly at other times. And he worked so hard in school, then Sixth Form and Tech College, to get the best grades he could for officer consideration. I know Jen dated him a couple of times, basically both graduations he attended, and she said he was a dream date, and of all her many dates she wouldn't tell us girls any more than that. She only added a little more, just to me, after she spotted me out with him on my one and only date with Bryan and she wanted to know what I thought, like we were part of a near-exclusive club. All the girls would have dropped anyone and everything to date him, but he was studying so hard to be an officer that he had no time for girls.

Gosh, he is so handsome, Mum, even more than he ever was. He stood there, straight as a ramrod, his manly, oh so manly chest puffed out, his shoulders back. I can just imagine him on horseback in Windsor Castle or riding down The Mall to Buckingham Palace with his red tunic, white jodhpurs, black boots, shiny silver-plated breastplate and plumed helmet. I know, stop giggling, I looked up the Household Cavalry on Google. They do normal soldiering as well as all that ceremonial stuff, in places like Afghanistan, in tanks and surveillance vehicles. He is just so full of confidence, it's as if he's seen the world at its worst and nothing would ever faze him. He's a man, a proper man, one who would cry genuine tears for losing a comrade in arms and then stand up and fight to the last man to save all or any of the rest.

Of course he stands out in a crowd, he always did but he never noticed me, except maybe that once, no twice. Second time was when he dated me and the first when he stood up for me and became my white knight.

I haven't seen him for four years, two months and, using my fingers while I wheeled my trolley around the supermarket, I counted seven days. I expected that he was staying with his Dad who is now living in one of those tiny new-builds in Pattern Park with his girlfriend. Then I thought maybe he was staying with Jack, I think he has a flat on the Coronation Road; but not Harry and Ginger, I know still live at home with their parents. We are all the same age 25, and we've known each other since we were 5, going to the same schools, and all still single, although I wondered if Bryan was married now? He left to join the Army those four years ago but I've never seen nor heard from him since.

I thought Bryan's parents must've broken up because I saw his Dad out with that tramp Sadie Forrest several times and now they have a baby that's not quite one year old yet. I mentioned that I spoke to Sadie down the doctors' surgery during the winter. Her boy Robin was about seven months old then, and had a really nasty cough. I think those cheap starter homes get sold before they're properly dried out, at least that's what Dad says and he's been a builder all his life, hasn't he. When I felt it was safe to, I thought I'd ask Sadie about Karen and Bryan ... oh, I thought you knew her, Karen's Bryan's only sister, she's about 30 and an absolute stunner. But Sadie said that she never saw Karen, who's an air stewardess, although Clive, that's Bryan's Dad, always insists she's "cabin crew" because it sounds better. As for Bryan, Sadie said he did come back from leave once when Clive was still trying to sell the old house, but since they moved into the new one there simply wasn't room for him, even before Robin arrived. I didn't feel I should press her for more info. At that time it looked like the chances of me ever seeing Bryan again were zero.

I know, you've always thought that he had a right to know about Bryanna, but hey, I was just a one night stand as far as he was concerned. And before you say he had responsibilities for his actions, well no, he didn't, not really, it was all my fault. Blow jobs, as I've told you before, that was my defence mechanism, and I was good at it, never had a complaint. Boys are easy, they just want to get their rocks off, right? Girls, well, you know as well as I that we are hard to get off, a lot of girls never do, me included, some only get off once in a while. Whatever, it's fine. For us it is all about the touching and holding and kissing, the odd orgasm is just a now and again bonus.

I mean, take 'Cocky' Cox for example. OK, Gary Cox was our neighbour forever, since before I was born even. Really, you were at school with his Mum? I didn't know that. Anyway, the Coxes and us, the eight-strong Browns, if you include Bryanna Brown, are still next door neighbours. Gary left, when was it, three or four years ago? But now he's back again after he split with Jenny Kingstone, my best friend. OK, OK, I did tell Jen all about Gary before she agreed to marry him but she was in the middle of a brain fart and wouldn't listen, so she married the sorry son of a bitch, and yes, she did tell me the other week that she was sorry she didn't listen.

Sure, Gary and me were happy for a long while, we played in each other's gardens when we were kids, then we went to school together, we sat next to each other on the bus, he protected me at school, which was kind of cute when you're seven, but not when you're fifteen and he's being an arse. I can't remember what the argument was about now, but Gary was a bit of a bully and I think I was getting seriously pissed off with him and gave him some backchat, and he slapped me.

I know you said never have secrets from you, but I never told you because you'd tell Dad and he'd have knocked the shit out of him. Besides, it was taken care off. I was in shock, nobody had ever hit me before, not even you, Mum. I think Gary even raised his hand to hit me again, when out of the blue Bryan grabbed his hand and twisted it behind his back and told Gary to apologise. I had never seen Bryan's eyes narrowed to such determined slits before and, boy were they focused! I felt they could burn a hole right through Gary, yet his voice was as calm and measured as if he was asking the Vicar's wife to pass the marmalade across a chintzy tablecloth. "Say sorry to Carla," he said, "say sorry now."

Then, "Mummy," Bryanna said, interrupting my thoughts, "you were gettin' us 'nanas an' you went straight past them!"

That brought me back to earth, like she always does. We were in the fruit and veggies section of the supermarket by then, pushing that trolley on autopilot, when I saw Bryan again, Mum, and whenever I see him I forget about everything.

"Sweetheart," I said to Brie, "I am so glad you're my best shopping partner, I'd be lost without you!" I bent down to kiss her on the lips as usual and she pursed her little lips and lifted her sweet head up and closed her eyes just as our lips touched. She has Bryan's eyes and even the shape of her face is a little like his. I know what you're thinking, some of my long-time girlfriends like Jen say exactly the same, that when I kiss her I imagine I am kissing Bryan, but it is not that at all. And yes, I do kiss her a lot, she's yummy, so bite me. Don't deny it, you love her more than you love me! Ow, that hurt! Shush! You'll wake her. I love this little girl so much! So, I got two hands of bananas for tomorrow's BBQ.

Where was I? Oh yes, I was comparing 15-year-olds Gary and Bryan. You know Gary was big even then and three years older than my eldest brother, so during the holidays Gary used to help Dad on building projects. Especially as Gary's Dad was one of my Dad's brickies' labourers at the time. So Gary was big, fit and bronzed in the sun. Now Bryan was also helping Dad that summer, the only year that he signed on. He was almost as tall as Gary but thin as a rake, remember? But that day he held onto Gary with that arm lock like it was no effort at all. Gary folded like a pack of cards and apologised to me, but from then on I reckon he hated Bryan with a vengeance. Since then of course, Gary didn't grown much more than another inch or two upwards, while Bryan shot up to well over six foot. Also in the last couple of years Gary has become fat and white as a slug, while Bryan has filled out, is muscular and tanned from wherever he's been serving. Oh Mum, you should have seen him.

No-one had ever stood up to Gary before and it was definitely a turning point for Gary. I mean, he had always pushed his weight around, but then he became a fully-fledged bully to everyone else, which I never really noticed, because Gary was always trying to be nice to me. I used to see so much of Gary because no-one else ever asked me to go anywhere, and that was because Gary frightened everyone else off. I didn't know about that until after I had gone out that one time with Bryan and asked him why it was that I had to ask him out on a date, and he only agreed because Gary was going out with Jenny that time. He said that he and everyone else thought I was Gary's girl, because that's what he had told everyone, and then I realised that that was what everyone must've thought. I only went out with Gary to places because no-one else seemed to think I was pretty enough to ask if I wanted a lift. On that one marvellous date Bryan said I was pretty enough all right and, well I believed him.

After my date with Bryan, I tackled Jen, and she told me that Gary had put the frighteners on everyone. So, I wanted to have it out with him but he insisted I meet him at the Fox and Hounds. That's a dive of a pub, that was round the corner from Bryan's house; I had never been in there, but Bryan told me that although it was local to him, it was nowhere he would be seen in, when I asked why we were going to the Fisherman's Arms instead.

As soon as I walked in the door of that pub, I felt out of place. It was full of drunken men and sour-faced old tarts and I felt every eye on me from the doorway to the bar, where Gary and his cronies stood around drinking. I didn't want to discuss our dirty linen in public, but he wanted to stay for a couple more drinks before we left. He even suggested we could made an evening of it there. Eww! Was he serious? That place should've been condemned! In fact it was and someone, not my Dad, unfortunately, is building a block of retirement flats on the site at the moment, probably to be filled with the old tarts drinking in the old pub. I hissed at him that one drink there was more than enough and I needed to talk to him urgently. Then he hissed back that he wanted to speak to me about a rumour he'd heard that I had gone out with 'Bryan bloody Taylor'. And I let rip that I had it on good bloody authority, the horse's mouth in fact, that he was diddling with my best friend Jennifer on the same night as I dated Bryan.

While all that was going through my head, Brie announced that we were in the dairy section and she wanted some of that strawberry drinking yoghurt that she likes, and blow me, there's Bryan again, standing right in front of me, sort of sideways on. Yes, his profile is just as dreamy Mum, please stop interrupting!

He looked a little lost, staring at his shopping list, even though he must have seen me in his peripheral vision. I mean, he trained as a tank commander and supposed to be observant, right? It was only me walking around in a dream. Just standing there, actually made him seem cuter somehow, like he was out of his element and needed a Girl Friday to help him out of his mess. Me be his super hero? No, Mum, my legs were quivering jellies.

He only had a hand basket, with some pickles in it, so he wasn't shopping for a family, unless his significant other was pregnant and wanted pickles and something outrageous from the dairy, like clotted cream or chocolate chip ice cream. Yes, that's it, I remember saying to myself in triumph, she's pregnant and really really fat. That made me feel better for a second. But then I thought, no, he'd have the prettiest girl in town at home, one with the build of a super model that would squeeze out cute babies (if Bryanna is anything to go by, and she's the perfect baby), yeah, pop 'em out like melon pips. Oh well, I thought, let's get this over with, I might as well embarrass myself as per usual, what did I have to lose other than the little dignity I have left?

So, I bumped his hand basket with the trolley, a little bit harder than I intended.

I think he was genuinely surprised to have someone bump him. He blinked a few times as if he was trying to remember where he had seen this strange person that he vaguely recognised but couldn't put a name to or associate even where he had seen them before. Talk about deflating the already depressed! I was about to apologise for bumping into him and moving on to live the rest of my mortal days knowing that the most memorable experience of my life meant absolutely nothing to him, when he finally spoke.

"Carla?"

It was a question. I wondered if he wasn't quite sure who I was but that this was the only name that his deep subconscious memory banks had suggested to him and even then he doubted that his memory was correct.

Still, it was better than just moving away and having his last memory of me as being a mild irritant pushing a trolley with a wonky wheel. I noticed that he had actually completed his shopping in the dairy aisle, with a pint carton of milk, a couple of yogurts, a salad for one, in addition to the jar of pickles. That made me smile, maybe he was on his own, even if he didn't notice me as anything other than part of the shopping crowd.

I think I replied, you know, pretty well on automatic, possibly even introducing him to his daughter. No, not AS his daughter, but honestly Mum, I was away with the fairies, losing myself in those deep dark brown eyes. I recall wondering if I remembered to wash my face after feeding Brie her breakfast this morning. I mean, it wouldn't be the first time I didn't notice the dried porridge on my cheek until teatime. But then, the sweet man that he is, he hunched down on his haunches so that he and Brie's faces were at the same level. He actually started to talk to her and she cheerfully answered him back without remotely screaming "Help Mummy!", which she usually does with strangers. I don't know what they said, because I couldn't take my eyes off his bum. Oh my, that bum, I remembered that bum. Don't tell you've never looked at his bum, Mum, that summer he worked with Dad.

We did speak a couple of sentences, I think. He made Captain, he said, and he's left the Army and starting work at Tanner's on Monday. I wanted to talk to him about so much, but where could I begin? It was like when I wanted to speak to Gary about frightening other boys away, I thought I might have to invite him out somewhere; not on a date, I would say, but just to speak to him. But I knew it was difficult, I didn't want to fuck this up ... no, she's still asleep ... and Bryan has never once approached me to see me for anything, what was I going to do?

I think he was struggling to say something, as well, because he started talking about my trolley contents. The meat, of course, I explained about the BBQ tomorrow, and thought, of course, an invitation to that would be perfect. I could get him to one side and tell him about Brie, perhaps even tell him how I feel about him. So I started to invite him to our house for the BBQ, but he couldn't shoot me down in flames quickly enough.

It was horrible, Mum. Oh my God, seeing me with Brie, he probably thinks I'm a slapper.

He was with his friends last night and every girl knows that when they are not talking about football blokes talk about who they've had sex with and what scores out of 10 they give them. Believe me, a barmaid knows what young men talk about, they just don't see us unless they need another pint. None of my girlfriends have ever said anything about Bryan's sex life, except Jen, but she just giggled to me that his oral skills were to absolutely die for and, without thinking and, ending up with the reddest face I ever had, I had to agree with her. Jen was the only one I ever told and I never heard anyone repeating anything about Bryan's sex life or of him boasting about one.

He tried to get away from us, then. Oh, Mum, it was like he was responding to a bugle call saying "retreat!" OK, I can't say I blamed him, he may have just remembered that I was one of his embarrassing conquests, so far beneath his usual standards. Even among us provincial girls, Jennifer Cox née Kingstone is the prettiest girl around here and he only dated her twice, and she told me he was her best date ever.

But I had to say something. Well, I mean, it may have meant nothing to him but what we did together was the most profound thing I had ever experienced, it was truly life-changing, Brie's testimony to that. He broke a promise to write to me and I bloody well told him so. He answered back that he had heard I had seen Cox again, and then hit me with the fact that I had never written to him. I could've died there and then, Mum. I never had much hope other than a spark, and it just got snuffed out and maybe it was because I had seen Gary once more. Although it was only the once that I saw Gary again, and it wasn't even a proper date. I considered it more a dressing down and declaration that I never wanted to see him again, but I suppose it was reasonable to misinterpret it. I didn't realise any of his mates were aware I was with Gary at the Fox and Hounds the day after our date.

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