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May 01, 2010


She drops the latch, pockets the key.

Mrs. Benson twitches the necessary. “She hasn’t smiled in weeks.”

Mr. Benson stirs his tea.

She turns the corner, crosses the road.

Across the park to the bus stop, checks her watch, waits.

“Morning love.” The Postman waves.

She taps her foot. I am not your love, I do not love you.

The bus is late. The sky is clouding over. I am not prepared.

The bus arrives. It takes her twenty minutes to get into the city, to walk to through the small streets, to find her cafe. The drops are starting as she ducks under the awning, peers through the steamed windows. He is late, she thinks, and I am a fool for being on time. I am always the fool.

She had spent twenty minutes longer on her hair and face, etching the kohl into the corners of her eyes gently smudging it with her finger, defining with mascara.

Entering, she sits, orders coffee which comes strong and hot, scalding her spine with her first mouthful.

When I reach ten he will arrive.

When I reach twenty five he will arrive.

When I reach seventy he will have arrived.

She finishes her cup, orders another.

The waitress holds the mug under the steamer watching the froth build until almost overflowing. I have seen her before, she thinks, I have seen her before but where? Lining mugs on her tray she is serving table nine when the door opens letting in cold air from the morning outside. It bangs shut. He is removing his scarf as she places the mug on the table, taking his order at the same time. Back at the machine she notices his height and the shade of his skin, the dark of his eyes.

“I’m sorry I’m late.”

“I’m sorry I’m a fool.”


“I’m sorry you are too.”


“Yes. Well.”

“Have you been here long?”



“So what do you have to say.”

“Not much. I have your book.”


“That’s everything. Nothing else is left.”


“Can you not speak more?”

“Can you not speak more?”

“Goodbye then.”

“But your coffee...”

“You have it,” drops three coins on the table. “I should be somewhere else.”

He wraps his scarf around his neck and the cold air the door lets in quickly warms.

She slumps.

The waitress brings the coffee over. “I can take it back?”

She wraps her hands around it. “No it’s fine. I am fine.”

Later, walking home, sleet begins to fall, cutting into her face and upper arms. The kohl is now rubbed away, her hair has lost its shape. She pulls her coat up further.

The house is cold. She lights a fire, picks up the book and throws it in. The flames grow.

The waitress leaving work heads into the tube and grips the bar as the train rattles beneath the streets. There is a smudge of coffee on her face, her back is sore and she has a burn on her wrist.

I know that girl, she thinks, I have seen her before.

The light in her living room is broken; she uses lamps to create a warm glow, boils the kettle, makes toast. Her eyes avoid the pile of books and clothes by the sofa, the ripped up photos, the half burnt letters in the grate. She sits in a chair, lifts her feet onto a small table.

I have seen that girl before.  

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.


The door bounces as she leaves.

I make a note to fix the catch. 

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  • I love it. Everything. One thing that amused me was the "climbing into bed", there is a bit of a jok… by Sue on this entry
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