'She had the most beautiful eyes,' he begins as he and a friend sip their pints. 'She also had the biggest pair of ..'
'...arms,' she tells her friends as they dine al fresco.' Really big, strong arms. I imagined them circling me. Holding me tightly. Keeping me...'
'...horny. I mean she was at least an' 8' mate. A looker. I knew straight away that one way or another, I'd be taking her home. But I played it cool, made her think I was...'
'...a real gentleman. So considerate and attentive. I couldn't believe he was so interested in yoga! I mean...'
'...bloody yoga! I had to try really hard to concentrate! I almost glazed over, but she went on and on! I was wondering just how flexible yoga made her, because, you know, that could lead to some interesting...'
'...positions. I talked about every one we'd learned in class. He didn't talk much but I could tell he was really engaged. It's important that your boyfriend shares your interests, don't you think? I felt so at ease with him, and he...'
'...knew she'd be up for it! Had her hooked. She was eating out of my hands. But then it got weird. Because I found myself genuinely interested. I know! But she has such a lovely way of speaking and I just found myself...'
'...captivated. If I'm honest my first impressions hadn't been favourable. I thought maybe he was only interested in a one-night stand. But he was deeper than that. I was disarmed. I even considered going home with him afterwards, but...'
'...I couldn't do it mate. Couldn't use her like that. She was such a great person. So selfless and open. So at the end of the night we got a cab, I saw her to the door and...'
'...gave me a peck on the cheek! Said what a nice night he'd had and would love to do it again. Do you know something? I was disappointed! I wanted him to come in. It had been a while since, well, you know... and I fancied him. But I'm glad he didn't because...'
'...I could hardly wait for the second date. And that went really well. We had a fantastic meal and then walked in the park. It was dark but the moon was out...'
'...and, although I can't remember when, he put his coat on my shoulders and wrapped his arm around me. We walked and hugged and just talked...'
'...about anything and everything. She was so intelligent and so well travelled but seemed genuinely interested in me. I even told her things I haven't told you mate. It felt so...'
'...natural. That's the only way to describe it. Like we'd known each other forever...'
'...so that's how it happened. I know you're going to get on great with her..'
'...you're going to like him as much as I do. In fact, if I'm honest, I don't just like him...'
“She’s not dead, you know,” a voice beside me says. The woman sharing the park bench in Kensington Palace Gardens has been observing me write on the back of a postcard. Years have passed since that immeasurable worldwide torrent of grief. Even so less than fifteen minutes ago, I’d found myself unable to walk past that famous face on a display of vintage cards at a Bayswater Road stall. “Diana’s not dead.” The woman shifts on her thighs and re-settles herself on the bench, a faint unidentifiable smell exuding from her dirty grey overcoat. Really, I can’t help myself when it comes to Diana. You have had to be around in her time to understand the mesmerising effect she had on people. “Oh?” “She wasn’t in that coffin.” “Oh?’ Despite myself, I am intrigued. The woman eyes me steadily, holding me fast with her gaze. “No. She’s in a mental institution.” The tone is matter of fact. “Under lock and key. They’ve kept it from everyone.” She gives me time to consider this, turning her attention to a m…
The little dog is tethered in the sun. From a distance, she has a rough coat. But when I’m close enough to stroke her, inside the pool of her reflection on the slow-baked sand, she is soft. You tell me not to touch. “Fleas, Simon,” you say. I drag your case up the hill. So many clothes. All from the cheap shop so you can justify their number, their casual disposability. I hoped you would spend all week in your white swimming costume. But you want changes, multiple changes. The room disappoints you. The humming fridge disturbs your sleep. The toilet gasps and gurgles. The ceiling fan struggles to stir air thicker than Brown Windsor soup. “I can’t breathe,” you say. The little dog cries all night. You burn on the beach, so you stay in the room. You smother your skin with cream, but refuse to let me baste you. I buy you more lotion—"Too watery, too melon scented"—from the shabby shop. Down the hill, up the hill. You want stifado in a carton. Down to the jaded restaurant, up again. Yo…
The orange fell apart with a single push of the thumb; the segments, juicy and firm, their pungency piercing the air. She let the aroma envelop her in a sweet embrace. Even the cicadas in the long grass were music to her chambered ear. How she had missed them on those cold silent nights when the snow had smothered her world. How she had yearned for the rhythmic clicks that rose to meet the stars with orchestral inclination. It wasn’t her idea, or even her wish. Decisions like that were never made by children. ‘We are no longer a family,’ he’d declared. ‘It is time to go and you are coming with me.’ She opened her mouth to argue but only howls of pain emerged. Of the journey, she remembers only the dark hull on a black sea, waking up to the sound of the ship’s horn echoing against the walls of a foreign harbour. The new home was a place as harsh as the marram was razor sharp, as unforgiving as the barren dunes that were set like concrete in the constant freeze. She always knew she would…