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The first.

Published on January 2020

He puts his hand on her back pocket. He is allowed, he has permission. Sometimes he can’t quite believe his luck. He lets his eyes roam her face, her straight button nose, her soft blue eyes and strong brown freckles. She smiles up at him and he feels it: this is one for the ages. He’s never been so sure of anything or anyone.


The kettle is making a strange noise that begs to be fixed. He tries to figure it out and she reads on the sofa. Their sofa, she got it from IKEA as soon as they moved in, despite his complaints about the bright green colour. He grunts, annoyed. She stands behind him and hugs him, kissing that mole on the back of his neck she loves so much. He walks their bodies to the sofa. Her red hair looks beautiful against the green.


He boils water in the same old kettle, giving it a little tap whenever it starts making a noise. He brings two cups over and they blow on it at the same time, smiling at each other. She takes his hand and kisses the palm of it, her lips making that little smacking noise he’s always loved. He takes her face in his hands, kissing everywhere, their teas forgotten.


The flat is dusty and her books are everywhere. He puts everything in order, yet again. She sees him and rolls her eyes, throwing herself on the sofa. He makes a show of cleaning her mess, she takes a book from her pile and reads.


It’s 3:00am and he’s tired. She’s shouting and he can’t tell what about. He closes his eyes, she throws a pillow at him, he launches it back and she goes into the bathroom crying. He stands up and sits outside the door, knocking softly and saying I’m sorry. She puts her hand flat on the other side of the door. So does he. They both know, even though they can’t see.


The bright green sofa is not comfortable to sleep in. He turns all night, every second another pain. He knows she can’t sleep either, even on their big comfortable bed in the other room. He can feel her electricity, her pacing, her nail biting. He makes a tea on a brand new kettle and sits, letting the hot liquid burn his tongue.


It’s hot and the pavement feels sticky against his shoes. A flash of red catches his eye across the road and he looks up, a familiar electric current forms faintly around his stomach. Freckles and hardened blue eyes stare back at him. They wave and it’s too late to stop. His hand falls against his leg, his wedding ring shining in the sun. He keeps walking, wondering for a split second who that old stranger is now.

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