The Shopkeeper – final part

They sit next to each other on the couch. The only light is from the kitchen and the moon. There is a faint tang of Sharizad’s sickness hanging somewhere in the room. “Carry on with the story,” she says. The sides of their bodies are touching. “It’s finished,” he says. “There isn’t any more.” “There is more,” she says. “He will come into the shop again tomorrow afternoon, or the day after, and what will you do?” “What can I do?” he says. “He knows that you have been thinking about him,” she says. She looks around the room, into … Continue reading The Shopkeeper – final part

The Shopkeeper – part VI

She eats the last piece of lamb on her plate (having saved it till the end, as usual) and puts her fork down. She’s tempted to run her fingertips over the plate, to scrape all the sauce up, and then to suck her fingers clean. She’d do this if Ali wasn’t there. “So why are you telling me?” she says, and glances at the candle burning between them, worried that it might go out. “I don’t know,” he says. “I can’t help staring at his hands. It’s like I’m waiting for them to fly away. He’s caught me looking. Now … Continue reading The Shopkeeper – part VI

The Shopkeeper – part V

“The first time he came in, he told me that he was buying the bottles to give to someone at work, to add to a farewell hamper. He told me about how they had bought this fellow enough gifts to fill a box, that they were going to wrap it all up in cellophane and ribbons, but they still had a small amount of money left in the collection. Everyone likes a drink, he said. And I agreed.” “I don’t like a drink,” says Julie, but he looks at her as if that doesn’t count. “And neither do you. So … Continue reading The Shopkeeper – part V

The Shopkeeper – part IV

  She thinks for a moment; not about the stew but about the story that he’s started. “So he’s dapper,” she says, and he frowns. “He wears office clothes then,” she says, and he nods. “And he comes in to the shop every day, almost, after work, at four o’clock, or just after, and he always buys the same thing.” His eyes dart up briefly from his plate, he nods and carries on eating. She wants to prolong the story. She could go on like this for hours. “Does he buy pornography?” she asks, and he says, “No,” through a … Continue reading The Shopkeeper – part IV

The Shopkeeper – part III

The kitchen clock stands on top of the fridge, leaning against a dented tea-tin filled with loose change. Julie becomes aware of its patient ticking. She has asked Ali, many times, to hang it on the wall. She’s indicated the space she has in mind, over the door to the living room, but he hasn’t got around to it yet. The hammer and nails are beneath the sink, next to the detergent and dish cloths, and sometimes she’s considered just doing it herself, but she worries about damaging the wall, or not getting the nail in straight, or misaligning the … Continue reading The Shopkeeper – part III