The Brown Loaf

By Saoirse

Presently, the mercy of my sisters was spent, and I was left to myself and to be sent port and starboard by my dear sainted mother, as was the custom whenever I was the only adolescent in the general vicinity. The first thing my mother said, and this is translated into my own reckoning so that it may be better understood in context, was “Go hither and yon to the ends of the earth and fetch me a nasty stinking brown loaf.” 

I relented dejectedly.


As I trod for the millionth time the gutters of Derry lane, I passed not only in placement, but also in negativity of emotion, several branches laden with brightly colored birds of the most absurd variety, chirping angrily at me and the rest of the world. I noted, though with little comfort, that in this misfortune at least, I could be accompanied.


Down Eldwin and Morlygone I went, wishing, when on Eldwin, to be on Morlygone, and when on Morlygone, to be on Eldwin.


The front of the shopping center was lined, as usual, with an overpopulation of cars, but the back was as lonely as ever. I glanced fleetingly towards the storefront of the carpet store, and wondered if the carpet lady was glaring at me even though I wasn’t currently peering into her still open loading bay. My mind, and my eyes, shifted across the street. There was Nail’s Halal, the Halal market, which wasn’t called Nail’s Halal, but something else Halal that looked like nail’s when it was in cursive. 


Pitas, I decided, considering the market, were flatbread only if they were less than three centimeters high.


I turned the corner onto the supermarket’s patio, and trudged sadly through the automatic doors into the poorly lit entranceway, grabbing a shopping basket. As I halted hesitantly in front of the second set of doors, I turned about to look one last time upon the free world of the outside, and I saw it. Right in the middle of the window of Nail’s Halal, there was a counter. In a big glass deli case, there were rows and rows of halal meat, and in the middle, something that wasn’t meat.

I dropped the basket with a dramatic flourish, and sprinted out into the sunlight. I was with those pitas before my feet reached them. I said something to the store clerk, but I don’t recall what it was. Money changed hands, and he asked me if I wanted a bag, I must have said no, because the last thing I remember was the amused look on his face when I took the paper-wrapped flatbread in my arms, embracing it as I ran out of the shop, up Morlygone, Eldwin, and Derry lanes, and at last into the kitchen of my home, where I slid my purchase onto the counter, proudly exclaiming to my mother over my consumer genius. 


“Go back and fetch the brown loaf,” she said.

This author’s voice is most impressive. There are so many witty turns of phrase throughout this story – it is truly a pleasure to read. The attention to detail is incredibly impressive as well. The author somehow makes what should by rights be a humdrum trip to buy a loaf of bread endlessly entertaining. Excellent work!