Kafez

Literary

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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Still fiction


And After...

by Susan Abraham

After they made love, they went downtown. He tossed a jacket over his shoulders and she lit a cigarette. Together, they painted a mood of lazy nonchalence. Soon, the standstill traffic smiled at the happy lovers.

London had forgotten its staid grey cloak. Instead, the rich cocktail of a spring air was still evident in the fading dusk. Could a medley of soft Northern winds tossed up to a nice twist by
the disappearing sun stay tantalising?

Laughing even as he had warned her of a weather change, she had slipped on gold sandals instead of boots. Now chilblain stabbed her toes that had been carefully paletted with pink gold dust. They stung like cruel nettles.

Pain continued to fiddle about her ankles even as they walked to the underground. She nursed a little hobble hoping he wouldn't see.

Then she shivered slightly and he held her close Suddenly, satisfaction wrapped its compassionate arms around her like a blanket and she smiled.

Many times now, there was no need for words. She forgot the beauty of his face as she had often thought him before this - either a model or an actor in the way he displayed a characteristic wistfulness.

She in turn, the student, had long sketched with careful deliberation, the pencil artistry of every cheekbone and every glimpsed shadow in the attic of her mind. It lay in a memoried drawer somewhere safe for when the unseen years in the distant future would someday cascade a waterfall of tears.

Unless she suddenly needed to think or remember for instance, an eagle-eyed expression or his brilliant smile, there was no need to pay attention. Now she had forgotten what had first stopped her in her tracks. Their intimacy had drifted on to another level - one of familiarity and silent understanding.

They hurried on with alacrity to a small Spanish bar in the West End. All around her, young people leaned back on their cars. They either smoked, drank, laughed or did all three in succession. They offered the rousing cheers of a studio audience.

Buxomy girls braved the winds and showed off daring flesh. Clumsy youths smiled approval with wide grins. Such was the party mood that even the skies could have doubted its vastness in carrying off the sound of a drum and dance.

They settled on a tiny dark corner at the back of the bar. As usual, she had managed to spill a little of her wine. Next to them sat a group of seven noisy Italians. They huddled precariously, perched high on their bar stools, with bent heads and cigarettes dangling magically from thumbs and lips. Frothy beers from cheap cans were being cheered to quick toasts. The young people talked fast and animatedly, each engrossed in the haphazard conversation of the other.

The blonde gazed at the brunette who gazed mesmerised at the boy next to her, who shouted something back at the blonde and then who all turned suddenly to laugh at a comical friend pulling faces, halfway across the little round table. Conversations arrowed, crossed and criss-crossed like planets hovering for an intimate chat, on an invisible galaxy strip.

The noisy chatter was suddenly deafened by the thunderous beats of La Bamba. The girls stood up to do a twist, then fell about on each like broken mannequins. Properly drunk now, they giggled, danced and stumbled about like a stylish parade of Broadway dancers.

The comical bloke flashed out a camera and without being told what to do, started snapping pictures. Pictures that would in the distant years, bring for one heartbroken lover in this carefree group, the silent rain of tears.

It was when oblivious to all the gaiety that he suddenly pulled her closer to him, slowly bent his head a little this way and that and finally kissed her, that she knew she was happy at last. But for how long. Only time would tell.

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