Monday, April 4, 2011



Clare and I walked hand and hand around Bloomsbury. In the shadow of the British Museum I halted our foreword progress and kissed her. She turned up her puckered face to meet mine. She was not as fastidious any longer about plucking her eyebrows. When our heads parted I could see the individual hair follicles poking through her green-yellow dermis. She ran her hand through my hair and examined the claw marks on my forehead.

She was just about to say something but the wind gusted and her little skirt lifted as if levitating on a thermal. I helped her push it down along the row of its even pleats.

It was raining, and the lunchtime Bloomsbury crowd had sprouted uniformly black and gray umbrellas. They bobbed like glistening mushrooms. There were so many on the street it gave the illusion that were sliding and swaying rather than moving from point A to point B. A mushroom up and mushroom down; a gray and black series of carefree dots sliding about in the drenching rain, getting nowhere.

Clare and I ducked into an eatery. We hung our rain coats on the hooks by the wall. We sat by the window and watched the long streaks of water spill down the glass. I watched her smoke cigarettes. She smoked one and then extinguished it, yellow finger and yellow butt joined silently, momentarily, and then departing. She smoked another. She looked out the window with distraction. A pasty faced boy brought me a plate of mashed potatoes and peas smothered in a greasy sauce. Little red sausages rested on the perimeter of the brownish pool.

Clare shifted in her chair and sighed. I had bought her a new blouse to add some splash to her frumpy wardrobe. It was scarlet with miniature white-rose florets stitched around the collar and sleeves. A larger rose, somewhat deflated already from being pressed against the lip of a desk during long hours of office labor, was stitched just below her heart.

Her exhaustion was reaching an apogee. Dark rings, and encircling ringlets, fringed her drooping eyelids. All those perimeter, premature lines on her young face had assumed a deeper etch. Wet tangled hair hung limply from her scalp in a high cap, covering those endlessly fascinating pointed ears. I dropped my spoonful of brown English mash, reached out, gently touching the tips of her ears by brushing aside a clumped lock until it fringed the ear like a border mat. She smiled thinly at me.

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