Saturday 24 June 2023

'Signal Failure' by Sarah Barnett

The date didn’t start well. He rocked up late SORRY FOR ANY DELAY, he said. I’d downed three gin and tonics by then and was on a STEEP HILL DOWNWARDS; it was going to get messy. He waffled on about his divorce, so I tried to create a DIVERSION and talk about movies. But there was NO STOPPING him, on and on he went about his ex’s favourite film. There was no DANGER of him ever shutting up, so I quaffed a few more gins till the room was tilting like an ADVERSE CAMBER. That’s when I fessed up that I’d lied about my age -– I’d told him I was 40 when I was actually 50, old enough to remember the CONES HOTLINE. But he laughed, told me he liked older women, and that his ex was 60. STOP! I cried, enough about your ex! It was too late, NO U-TURNS, my angry words had landed. He looked offended, said he’d walk, well carry, me home. On the doorstep, I told him NO ENTRY, which seemed fine by him, he was happy to make a quick EXIT. As he hurried away at MAXIMUM SPEED, I had second thoughts, stumbled after him, struggling to STAY IN LANE, I’d like to see you again, I slurred half-heartedly, blocking the path, but he started to run, and I had to GIVE WAY. I think the signs were telling us, in a ROUNDABOUT way, that it wasn’t meant to be.

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