'Shift' by Amanda Mason


There is before and there is after, this is what Sarah will realise much later in the day.
There was the morning, the dull routine of a day much like any other, of housework and emails; a stroll into town and maybe some shopping. But now there is after and just the thought of it will make her smile, over and over again, in amazement at her own ridiculous luck.
She’d arranged to meet him at the Italian Cafe and it happened that as she walked down the lane from the market, he was walking up from his office. So it was that instead of meeting inside, they met there instead, in the street.
This is the moment she wants to remember - the point at which her world shifted from before to after. This is the point that, as she sits in a taxi on her way home, or at the table as she eats dinner, or last thing at night before she falls asleep, she will try to recreate and re-live, beat after beat as she tries to convince herself that this is true.
They walk into each other’s arm quite naturally, hugging as if they are old friends - which they are not, not quite. They speak, although later she will struggle to recall what either said, it is the embrace she will remember. She is conscious of being held, held close, then closer still and of responding in kind. For a long moment they cling to each other despite themselves, as if they were already lovers, long parted and now happily re-united. It is the last thing in the world she expected, yet it feels as natural as breathing.
“It’s good to see you,” she says, or something like it.
“You too.”
His lips graze her cheek with the lightest of kisses.
They go inside.
There is before and there is after, this is what Sarah will realise much later in the day. 

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