John Coltrane (Photo: Esmond Edwards)

by Niki Duffy


Creative Writing #8: Chapter One part V

Her words lingered through the air like smoke for quite some time before he snapped to reality. Here she was, and here, too, was he. He realised now that from the seat he chose he couldn’t see the patrons in the back room, and so she had in fact been there the whole time. He meandered towards her small table in the corner awkwardly, and slowly sat himself in the chair opposite her, hyper-aware of the way his knees creaked as he did. He sat silently, simply looking at her, noticing how she had changed a large deal since he knew her. Not just physically, he thought, although she had indeed grown in that respect. Her features had become more pronounced, more adult, and he thought of how the body he had once known was now a new one. He began, without knowing, to look her up and down, marvelling at her new frame, before becoming embarrassed to noticing her eyes prying into his thoughts. He tried to turn his thoughts to something else, when her voice startled him.

"How have you been?"

The timbre of her voice remained, unlike her looks, completely unchanged. It sent a dull ache through his body hearing it, followed by the slightest surge of adrenaline. He silently battled with himself, searching himself for the habitual calm that had accompanied him recently.

"I’ve been…" He began, tripping over his words slightly. He cleared his throat, securing an alibi for his twisted tongue.

"I’ve been alright I suppose."

"Just suppose?" was her response, prequel to an awkward pause.

"what have you been doing with yourself?" She inquired. He collected his thoughts and constructed his answer carefully. Why are you thinking so much? He asked himself, Just calm down!

"Nothing really. I’ve just been working."

"Same old place?" She raised an eyebrow, as she used to upon a question. He pondered on his reply. Had he really worked there that long? He attempted (quite unsuccessfully) to do the sums in his head, which ended up taking him quite a while. He was still madly calculating when the curtains between his conscience and the world were pulled open, blinding his mind’s eye for a spell.

"Oh," he commenced, "Yeah. The boss is still a prick." With this she gave a soft, warm chuckle, which surged through his body, shooting a strange shiver through his spine, for which he tried a tremendous amount to fight off. A good while passed before he realised how, for all her change, he had changed too. This was the only way he could explain is strange behaviour. Perspiration riddled his body, nerves riddles his head, and he noticed how the ice had not yet broken. On the contrary, the ice was forming and thickening over their encounter, and he, try as he might, couldn’t crack it and peek through the top side of it.