I am in the supermarket circling, up and down aisles, selecting ingredients for a cosy dinner for two. There’s just one other thing left to get, left until last. I head to the chemists section.
I stand next to my trolley, I peer at the shelf of vitamin supplements, but really I am looking from the corner of my eye to the shelf next along, at the condoms.
The last time I bought condoms was an age ago, back then there was little choice, now there are a plethora of options, shapes,flavours, sizes, colours, there are a myriad and I need to decide what I want. Choices are good, but they also create as many questions as answers.
Lucky man that I am I realise that I can whittle down the options, Extra large,is not necessary, fancier hues and shapes well, not for now, I go for the one that says I will hardly know its there.
All options come security packaged, protected protection. It dawns on me that I will have to go to the counter, the check out operator will have to unlock the security tag, in plain view and I will stand there whilst the process takes place. Never mind, its just one of those things, I make sure that the box is hidden away under other shopping and make my way to the counter.
It’s busy in the supermarket, I queue, I take my purchases out of the trolley and place them on the belt, the condoms carefully placed under a bag of fruit so they remain hidden. Then right behind me in the queue I see her, somebody I know well, that I have known for years, that knows me & mine. I feel my face redden. We greet each other, at that moment the shop assistant reaches for the condoms and makes a dogs dinner of taking them out of the security packaging, she drops the box it tumbles off the counter and at the feet of my friend. Her eyes fix on my purchase as I grab it clumsily. I want to crawl away and hide under a stone. There isn’t one.
That evening I make dinner for two, candle-lit it comes and goes. We share intimacy, wrapped around each other, skin on skin,light against dark,naked and open one to the other. Her deep brown eyes focussed intently on mine, she smiles, she tells me what I want to hear,the mists of doubt and disconnection blow gently away.
At 1.30 am the taxi arrives, outside the air is damp, its pitch black and quiet. On the doorstep we kiss and say goodnight. I close the door behind her and the mist descends once more.