garlic you were here for garlic but you just need to, okay, you just need to, [[OKAY|STORE17]]
you're in the aisle with the frozen [[PIZZAS|CSTORE2]]. maybe the cold will help. there is a [[LADY|BSTORE9]], but she's nothing, background noise. a free floating threat like everything else. you need to clear your head. you just need to [[BREATHE|STORE18]]
you're gonna have to go to the [[STORE]]
Your head swells, and your vision clouds for a split second. You put a hand on the the [[SCALE|BSTORE8]] that stands on a pedestal near the potatoes, in the hopes it might anchor you, but you are already gone. you breathe. you [[BREATHE|STORE14]]
the wall with the misters, with the formerly harmless broccoli and kale, and the wall with the mustard and horseradish, have grown, and pitched forward. they tower over you, each at the edge of your dimming peripheral [[VISION|CSTORE5]]. there's something ugly inside of you, it's monsterous and murderous. you grab a head of garlic, and then put it back [[DOWN|BSTORE7]]. colors fade just a little. your mind is clear and rational but your insides are prepared to fight to the absolute death. your heart pounds. you [[BREATHE|STORE13]]
it gets dark in here, threatening. the grocery store is [[CHANGING|BSTORE6]]. you're here for some garlic but, there's these people around. you look like a freak right now. [[ABNORMAL|CSTORE7]]. something is deeply, intensely wrong. you [[BREATHE|STORE12]]
you look at the garlic that you came here for, but it's changed. it's [[NOTHING|BSTORE4]]. it's insignificant, a mote, a molecule. frivolous. paltry. you don't need it now. who's to say that you'll ever need it. who the fuck [[CARES|BSTORE5]]. you [[BREATHE|STORE11]]
exhaustion washes over you. you need to get home. you're afraid of the [[DRIVE|CSTORE3]], but you really just need to be home. maybe things will be better at [[HOME|STORE20]]
your heart [[SLOWS|CSTORE4]]. you won't be okay for the rest of the day, if you're ever okay again. you walk emptyhanded out the front [[DOOR|STORE19]]
your pulse feels weak, uneven. you're air-thirsty. the world is [[HOSTILE TERRITORY|STORE21]]
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things are happening in your periphery, and you can't filter the important things from the unimportant, and everything is too bright and sharp and mad, you close your eyes for one [[SECOND|STORE12]]
but it's still not [[NORMAL|STORE18]]
your arm tingles. your chest hurts. your head aches. your leg twitches. a sharp stab in the ribs. heart attack. lung cancer. aneurysm. neurological degeneration. liver failure. oh [[GOD|STORE11]]
right, you came here for garlic, you use it in almost everything you cook, you've been cooking a lot lately, it's been great, you've lost like fifteen pounds, plus it's super rewarding, not least because people are always super impressed to hear that you can make alfredo from scratch, right, but so you're here for [[GARLIC|STORE6]]
your head feels heavy and unreliable. you don't trust your eyes. your hands are [[SHAKING|STORE19]]
you're staring hard at the ground, your measured breathing is ragged. your heart is screaming and you're certain she can hear it. you pass by her. you glance for one second, one tenth of a second. you're coming to the end of the [[AISLE|STORE17]]
you exhale
you're not safe yet. you hum a nonsense song, and stop. you describe your surroundings to yourself out loud. you [[BREATHE|STORE22]]
as you turn, the dry produce comes into your field of view, and you try to think about anything other than the fact that really, your landlord has been more than generous for these last hard months, and it would be nothing at all to find someone to take your place in that beautiful old house, and that you're never really gonna get that money you're owed, [[AND|STORE8]]
your heart falters for just a brief moment as you make your way over to the misted vegetables. these aren't what you're looking for, you came here for [[GARLIC]]. you look blankly for a moment at the kale and broccoli. garlic is right behind you. it's with the onions and, like, shallots or whatever. you [[TURN|STORE7]]
you pivot left, putting your helmet under your left arm to use as kind of a [[BASKET|BSTORE3]]. you head over to the produce section. you came in the left entrance, so you're pretty much right there. you pass the, okay, the "ethnic food" aisle, it actually says that, and you walk over toward the one sad organic food stand, and you suddenly [[THINK|STORE5]]
helmet in hand, you walk past the registers. you momentarily consider the refrigerated pre-made sandwiches, and take a moment to window shop the [[DISCOUNT ALCOHOL|BSTORE2]] that they put up near the front. preliminaries completed, you look at the aisles. the sausage and stuff is always in the back, but you're pretty sure that [[PRODUCE|STORE4]] is right to the left at this one.
the ride takes maybe five minutes. you park up on the sidewalk next to the bike racks and take off your helmet. it's ten fifteen at night, and the SAFEWAY sign glows red. for some reason your city has seen fit to erect a [[GIANT, CHROME HORSE STATUE|BSTORE1]] in front of the grocery store. you regard it fondly as you enter the [[FRONT DOOR|STORE3]]
put on your helmet, get on your bike. you're out of garlic - an unarguable necessity - and maybe some sausage or a couple pork chops would be good to have around. luckily the store is right around the corner. open the throttle and you're [[OFF|STORE2]]
and you freeze for just a moment. you know what's coming, although it hasn't come yet. you're hyper-aware of every single heartbeat, but okay, okay. [[OKAY|CSTORE1]]. you start to sing under your breath, a repetitive little children's song. "ho, ro, the rattlin' bog, the bog down in the valley-oh, ho, ro. the." the song dies on your lips. it's [[HAPPENING|STORE10]]
it's unbelievable. eighteen feet tall if it's a foot, the thing flies in the face of all taste and reason. the horse is mid-buck, gleaming mane perpetually tossed, wild-eyed and clearly not interested in taking anyone's shit. and it's in the parking lot of an expensive chain grocery store. [[JESUS|STORE2]]
jim beam 11.99. relatively tasty. better and cheaper than the overrated jack daniels. helps a lot, kind of makes it worse the next day though. tragically, you don't have the cash. [[NEXT TIME|STORE3]]
you realized only a month ago that most people just leave their helmet with their bike, but its utility is unique and undeniable when it comes to [[SMALL SHOPPING TRIPS|STORE4]]
breathe in for five seconds, hold it for two, let it out in a slow hiss, in for five, hold for two, let it [[OUT|STORE10]]
how did the song go, ok. it's ok. how does it go. hum it. ok. you're still here. ok, just, it's ok. think about the [[SONG|STORE10]]
in for five, hold for two, out for five, in for five, hold for two, out for five, [[IN|STORE11]]
low priority. don't need this right now. maybe later. maybe [[NOT|STORE12]]
in for five, hold for two, the cold metal touching your skin is perfect, exactly what you need, but as it warms under your touch it changes, retreating into the store's ambient horror, out for [[FIVE|STORE13]]
<a href="" style="color: #660000">brain sullivan</a>
you wonder how many people die of a heart attack at your age. late twenties, your lifestyle, i mean, it's completely with the realm of possibility, okay stop [[NO|STORE9]]