Everything was just as it had been the last time he’d come, except he couldn’t see her sculpture. He looked around as if it might have been blown down the road. He stopped a woman near to the Arts Centre, and said, ‘What happened to Forward Surge?’ She arched an eyebrow, and her eyes followed his bony finger to the patch of grass browning in the afternoon scorch. She apologised and clipped off without another glance, leaving behind a hint of perfumed leather. And the man selling coffee from a van was no more helpful, smiling and asking him what he’d like today, as if there’d been a yesterday. Round the corner, the old cafe was still fronted by the same tin sign, and though no one in there looked familiar, there was a place at his usual table, so he sat and stared at the glassed-in cakes, recalling the vanilla slice from last time. Eventually the waitress walked over. She pointed to a handwritten notice that he couldn’t quite make out, then glanced at his shoes and said that it wasn’t usually table service, but lunch was finished and they weren’t too busy, so what would he like. He felt tired, and a long way from home, and he asked if he could have a few more minutes to think, and he looked at the veins in his hands, wondering how long it would take for the dust that was surely falling all around to completely cover him.
© Barry Lee Thompson and ‘Stories, by Barry Lee Thompson’, 2013.