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Posts Tagged ‘strangers’

Tonight, I think of my younger self with eyes of endurance and focus, eyes wide and credulous. You take a handmade scroll and draw it open. For you, this evening is veiled in a fog of revelries. You tug at the gold ribbon, unwrap the printed paper. You’re reading and I’m by your side marvelling at my own work. I lose my cool though I probably never had it, or felt it once and took it held it watched it vanish again. What I don’t have within me by this age, I choose to lack. And you’re the final stranger.

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My thoughts leap from here to there. Happily, for relief, there are gossip magazines. I watch as you select an armful of brightly coloured publications telling you all that’s necessary about Cheryl, Jordan and Jennifer. I flick through one and say aloud, Sex Text Saga. You reply, Excuse me, reaching for one more. I scoff but here I am admiring the free shampoo offer with Glamour. I ask you about Tess and Vernon. And then real life walks in through the double doors and says, now then you two. There it is asking, Who is right and who is wrong?

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A stranger as a challenge. You are on the telephone but I need to communicate with you. A gesture, then. You ignore me. A wave. Can I pass, please? You avert your eyes. I lean over you to order my sandwich. I hear the tinny voice from your handset. Someone is crying. What I say is this: Don’t go. Or do go. Stay with him, or don’t. Eat well, or not. Settle in this country, or don’t. Be ridiculous, but sometimes don’t be. The only place from which you don’t have to come back from is the journey to yourself.

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I allow myself a little rudeness. You tell me about an event you’ve just seen and I look down at you – you’re small – and say, What? Then louder, WHAT? A writer, you inform me, and very good. I let my mouth open. A yawn? I think it is. Someone pushes past me. I swear at them, or at least mouth the words. Your wife praises the speaker she heard. She’s tall, hunches to hear us. I say, Uh instead of Pardon and roll my eyes. When we say goodbye, I am nice again. A real pleasure to meet you both.

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