'We love a bargain' by Colette Hill

I said ‘let’s hail a cab,’ and you said ‘if we walk to Trafalgar Square, we can get the 87 the whole way.’ I said ‘it’ll take ages, stopping all the time, going round the houses.’ You said you’d rather that than the stop-start of a taxi while the meter clocks up the pounds. I said I’d pay, but you said that wasn’t the point, that it was a waste of money when we could sit together on a bus, taking in the sights. You took my hand then and I said ‘are you trying to soften me?’ to which you said ‘you’re a soft thing already,’ and stroked my cheek with your thumb. I said I didn’t appreciate the condescension: if I wanted to splash out on a cab, who were you to circumscribe my life with your meanness and your terror of dying in poverty. You waited a while after that, so we watched the passers-by, who must have thought we were rowing, which we weren’t really. Then you said, ‘right - let’s get a cab then,’ and I said ‘no, I’d just feel guilty all the way home. It’d probably cost thirty quid, which is a ridiculous amount to pay for such a short trip. Come on, we’ll get the bus.’ To which you said ‘right then; good,’ and took my hand and patted it. To which I said ‘don’t do that, okay? Don’t patronise me.’ Neither of us spoke for ages until we were sitting on the top deck, at the front, and the bus was belting down Sloane Street, and you took my hand and toyed with my old engagement ring. ‘That’d cost a bit these days,’ I said and you said ‘A real bargain, that ring.’

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