Tuesday morning. A couple of hours before his train is due to depart. We go to the champagne bar on the platform. He insists on sitting outside, even though it’s cold enough for scarves. None of the other customers are as foolish. “We’re hardy,” he says. I mishear. “Hardy,” he says. We eat croissants with butter, and salt-and-pepper scrambled eggs. The coffee – bitter, and strong, and too hot – is delicious, and seems to hold some hint of the smoky darkness of the future within its depths. Our conversation is easy, requiring little thought, on the surface, anyway: we … Continue reading Feathers

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

The Shopkeeper – part II

Ali says: “He started coming in a few weeks ago, and after a few days I assumed he was going to be a regular customer, and that he was going to buy the same thing every time. We smile at each other, and he tells me about simple things, like the weather.” This is reminding her of when they first met, when he would talk while they waited for infrequent late-night buses to take them home. He would deliver accounts of the events that pressed on his mind, talking hotly, and close to her ear at times, while around them … Continue reading The Shopkeeper – part II