tagRomanceThe Supermarket

The Supermarket


"Carla?" Bryan asked the beautiful woman as soon as his hand basket accidentally bumped into her trolley.

"Hello, Bryan," she replied, with a beautiful smile, "Wasn't sure if it was you from the end of the dairy aisle or not."

Of course she knew it was him, carrying a shopping basket with milk, yoghurts, cheese, salad leaves and a jar of pickled onions. She'd already seen him twice as he'd clearly tried to avoid her in the last ten minutes.

"And who's this?" he asked, smiling at the child sitting in Carla's trolley.

"This is Brie, my daughter."

"You're pretty," he said, making the little girl laugh. "How old are you?"

"Three," Brie giggled.

"You on leave from the Army?" Carla enquired.

"No, I've finished my commission, about a month or so ago. I start as Logistics Manager at Tanner's Transport on Monday."

"How long you in the Army for, then?"

"The short commission minimum is three years; I added the extra year in order to make Captain."

"Are you staying with your Dad?"

"No, his house is tiny; and his live-in girlfriend's about our age, added to that their baby cries all night. They are trying to break the feeding cycle by letting her cry, apparently," he replied, "Did you have to do that with Brie?"

"No, fortunately she grew out of the nightly feeds naturally," Carla smiled, lovingly remembering the closeness of those dead of night feeds.

Bryan's heart missed a beat at that smile. She was definitely the prettiest girl he'd known in school. He reminded himself, though, that she was always Gary Cox's sweetheart. Bryan had only had the one single date with Carla, coinciding with one of their frequent break-ups, just before he left for the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. He'd already noticed the wedding ring on her finger where she gripped the shopping trolley handle bar and, if that wasn't enough, the piles of steaks, chops and six-packs in the trolley was a dead giveaway of a healthy male presence at home.

"A lot of meat there," he commented, almost without thinking.

"We're having a barbecue at the house tomorrow, Bryan, if you want to come-"

"No, I can't, I'm sorry," he interrupted quickly.

The last thing he wanted was having Gary bloody Cox lording it over him as the smug bastard who won Carla's heart, Bryan simply couldn't bear it.

"I've just moved into one of the new three-beds on Cooper's Meadow, and I have a lot of straightening to do before starting work on Monday. Anyway, Carla, it's really lovely seeing you again, oh, and meeting your lovely daughter Brie." He started to move away.

"You never wrote!" she blurted out, "after our date, you left and never came back." He stopped in his tracks and half-turned. Carla's head was bowed, her shoulder-length hair across her face like a curtain.

"I know," he said softly, "I didn't know what to write, and, well training was ... intense. Then Mum and Dad split up almost immediately I joined the Academy, so I had all of their crap to deal with, too. Then Mum wrote to me saying she had heard from Dad that you were back with Cox. You didn't write to me either, remember?"

"Sorry, I didn't know what to write either." She looked up, her eyes sad. "I've seen your Dad about with his new missus, but haven't seen your Mum recently, where'd she go?"

"To Sussex, to be near my grandparents. Dad moved in with Sadie Forrest, you know, my best friend's sister? I've stayed with Mum on leave sometimes, but I can't afford the property around there, so thought I'd move back up here and got a good job. I came up and stayed in a hotel here last night, having exchanged contracts on the house online and I only moved in today, had the furniture delivered this morning."

"Text me your address Bryan, and we'll send you a Congrats card for your new house and new job."

"Great, thanks, Carla. I think I've still got your number on my phone," he grinned.

"If you can't find it I, we, still live in Mum and Dad's old house. You know, I, er, I actually saw you on Thursday night," Carla added quietly.

"What, in the Fisherman's Arms?"

"Yeah, I work evenings there, behind the bar."

"Place hasn't changed much." Bryan's head filled with a memory, it was where they had agreed to meet up when they started their one and only date, knowing that Gary Cox had been banned from the pub.

"No, not much, less smokey than it used to be," Carla smiled, nodding, "I had hoped you'd come up to the bar sometime during the evening, or at 'last orders', but you didn't."

"No, I didn't! My friends wouldn't let me buy a single round all night. They poured me into a cab at the end of the evening. Had bit of a sore head first thing this morning." He grinned sheepishly.

"You look fine now," she breathed.

"I'm trained to put on a front, it's good for morale, apparently," he grinned, "Anyway, it's been really nice to see you, Carla ... Brie."

He couldn't help himself, he kissed Carla on the cheek, then little Brie on the forehead before moving off with his hand basket.


Bryan waited at the basket check-out, looking around. He saw Carla at the trolley counters, where she was busy bagging up all her goods, stretching to reach, shuffling goods and sorting, lifting full bags back into her trolley, enough there to feed a platoon, he thought. The cute little girl, Brie, was sitting in the trolley seat, idly kicking her legs back and forth. The kid must've said something to her mother, too far away for Bryan to hear what, but Carla put her arm round her and kissed her, before returning to bagging shopping.

Bryan's mouth went dry, he felt he was running on empty. It had taken ages for him to fill his basket. He'd no idea where anything was and forced himself to backtrack away from every aisle that he found Carla occupied. The woman in front of him in the queue paid her bill and moved away. Bryan placed the basket on the counter and the teller labelled "Marlene" started ringing them through. Bryan's thoughts were occupied with what-were and what-might-have-beens.

"Hello, Handsome," Marlene said, breaking his reverie.

Bryan blinked. "Mrs Kingstone? Wow!!"

"Yeah, I lost a few pounds," Marlene grinned, "You've filled out nicely, though. They keep you fit in the Army, do they?"

"I guess they do. How's your Jenny?"

"Oh, she's fine, at least she is now that her divorce is final."

"Sorry, Mrs K, I didn't even know that she was married."

"Oh it didn't last long, thank goodness. She's much happier now. Hey, I saw you in the aisles earlier, talking to Carla and her daughter." She leaned forward and dropped the level of her voice, "Jenny told me once that you forever had this thing for Carla. Did you ever get anywhere with her?"

Bryan started, then relaxed and smiled, "Gentlemen never kiss and tell, Mrs Kingstone."

"Good answer, Bryan; gentlewomen can be rather tight-lipped about their relationships, too," Marlene grinned, "Carla's little girl's a real cutie-pie, isn't she?"

"Yes, she's a beautiful girl, despite her father."

"What you got against her father, Bryan?"

"Never liked that Gary Cox," he continued, "For winning and marrying Carla."

"Me neither, he was too smooth by halves. Gary married my Jennifer, Bryan, not Carla. He told Jenny that Carla was frigid, apparently saving herself for that special someone. That's why they kept splitting up, while Gary carried on sowing his wild oats. Damn it! The bastard still is."

"So who was it that Carla married then?"

"No-one, Sweetie."

"But she's wearing a wedding ring."

"She wears that ring to fend the boys off at the pub. She still lives with her Mum, Dad and brothers and she's in here filling up that trolley for them every Friday. Brianna has your hair and eye colour you know; just thought I'd pass that on. That's £8.41, Sweetie... Carla parks in the mothers and toddlers area and she has her hands full to load the boot and strap Brianna in, so you've plenty of time to catch her up and make things right."

Bryan handed over ten pounds and kissed Marlene's hand.

"Thanks, Mrs K, I won't wait for my change. Please pass on my best wishes to Jenny."

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