His hair is cut short, so short that she can see every mark on his scalp. She watches him lean forward to catch what a girl is saying to him. There is a scar across the back of his head, about an inch long, level with his ears; shiny, it catches the light from behind the bar. She wonders how he got it, and as she stirs the ice cubes in her glass she maps out a narrative. A drunken fight outside a nightclub. She sees the gaggle of mini-skirted girls on the pavement, shocked out of their tipsy frivolity by the sudden violence, by the sight of blood across the steps, by the blue screech of police sirens. She wonders if there were other injuries, a knife wound perhaps. She imagines the arrest, the court appearance. Maybe there was a custodial sentence. He looks the type.
Later, much later, she will meet his mother. She will tell her about the holiday in Devon, a small boy running towards the ice-cream van, slipping on a flight of steps, his blonde head striking the corner of a tread. The smell of blood and sea-salt, the screech of sirens.
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