April 30, 2010

Social Form

I watch the girl in front. Steam clouds the shop and perspiration crowds her top lip. Her eyes flash, dark they focus ahead, not moving as her lips speak her order. Stirring in sugar the sleeve of her shirt floats despite the humidity; as she walks past I mouth the words “hi” but she stares through me, letting the door slam.

I collect my drink and follow her down the street.

She turns left into a car park, pointing her fob at a long saloon, balancing her cup on top as she climbs in, reaching out for it before she turns on the engine. She drives one handed out of the building.

That night, we go for dinner with the Slaters.

“Do we have to? I have a headache.”

I say it’s politic. She sighs. Buttons up her dress, fastens a necklace.

“We’re not staying long.”

The ride to the house comprises of the highway then a narrow road and a track to their door. The house is old, 19th century clapboard, in need of repainting but with a veranda stretching round two sides.

“I didn’t bring flowers! I should have brought flowers!”

I switch off the engine and open my door. She smoothes her dress, fiddles with the buckle on her shoe. “We didn’t even bring wine.”

I go to hold her hand, she walks forward.

Through the door Nigel shouts us to “come on in!” The table is laid, with tulips “cut fresh from the garden.”

The dog barks, I nudge Claire. She doesn’t smile. Nigel hands me a beer, gives Claire wine and we sit on sunken armchairs in what must be their best room. The wallpaper folds at the corners of strips, a piano hides dankly at the back.

“Do you play?” Claire asks.

We’re told it hasn’t been touched in years. Sheet music is open on the stand, she walks and fingers the keys.

Nigel asks me about shooting. I say I don’t. He says he’ll have me with a gun yet. Claire frowns at the pictures on the mantelpiece. Mary tells us that they are nieces and nephews, “we’ve not been all that lucky ourselves” and touches Claire’s wrist as she stands to refill drinks.

Later, on the highway, the spray from rain forces me to pull over. We sit for ten minutes then crawl back to home, climb into bed.

“The weather will continue for days.” I turn the machine off, roll over to Claire. She is already asleep.

When I get home the next day she is sat at the kitchen table with a card.

“What do you write in thank you cards?”

I say I have no idea and go to the fridge for the water, pour a glass.

There is a vase of tulips above the sink.

“Coffee?”

The door bounces as she leaves.

I make a note to fix the catch. 


- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Sue

    I love it. Everything. One thing that amused me was the “climbing into bed”, there is a bit of a joke in or house when my partner sometimes tells everyone to “sit up” when dinner is ready and I make some sort of aside about “climbing up onto your chairs!”

    30 Apr 2010, 22:49


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