Very much just another blog

What the girl wrote

with 6 comments

The man left the coffee shop as I went in. He’d been crying; his eyes were red and sore and his face was damp. He shoved passed me and muttered something as he left. I caught the door as it swung back, turned instinctively to watch him leave, then walked in and over to the counter to order.

There were only a few people in the room, each alone. I took my place at a table in the corner, removed my notebook and pen from my bag and scanned my opportunities. This is the problem, you see, with going out: someone’s bound to write about you. Diane Arbus said something a bit like that; about being photographed. I forget how it goes exactly but ultimately it’s about being exposed, vulnerable in public, available always to be examined.

I try not to steal people’s stories too often. Or, at least, not in their entirety: I hear a sentence or see a person and make the rest up for myself; fuse an idea I had on Tuesday with one that floated by on Thursday afternoon. Then I illustrate it with a voice I heard behind me on the bus or what I thought in the seconds it took for a man to run passed me on the south bank. You can imagine.

I looked around the room, there was a pair of twins I hadn’t noticed, sitting side by side on tables pushed together. They mirrored each other, quietly, without thinking about it – lifted a cup, took a sip, smoothed the paper. I hid a shudder and turned my attention to the girl opposite me.

She sat with one hand resting on the keys of her open laptop and the other in a light fist against her mouth. She was staring out into nowhere, her coffee half emptied and cold at her elbow. Another, full, in the empty space in front of her. One of the staff hovered past her, lifted the extra cup, put it back. She was oblivious.

She sighed and looked back at her computer and began to type. This is what she wrote:

I wanted to write and say I’m sorry. I know this in itself is selfish because I don’t think, really, that you’ll read it. And that means I’m writing it for me. But I’m writing it nonetheless.

There are many things I regret about what happened – that sounds so insubstantial doesn’t it. I don’t mean it like that… I wish I had been more honest with everyone, including myself. I don’t have any excuses, I wouldn’t use them if I could think of them; I messed up really badly.

She paused and slouched into a curled back. Then straightened, abruptly, and continued to type:

I was completely blindsided by you; like I had been living half a life or something and someone came into my room and turned on all the lights and opened the windows and said hey, look at this…. And I was overwhelmed but it meant all sorts of things. Not just the fact that I had met you but the fact that I had to leave Andrew and sort myself out and all of these things were different things and I didn’t want them to be connected. I’m not sure if any of this makes sense. I’m just writing as fast as I think so I get it all down.

Her fingers had been running fast over the keys but they seemed to slow and then her pace was fully punctuated, stopped, as her mobile sounded. She looked at it as it rang, lifted her finger to tap it. Stopped, stroked her finger down the screen. Then she looked back at her laptop and slowly, very slowly, began to delete everything she had written, letter by letter, then word by word and then it was gone. Nothing left.

After a moment she picked up her phone and tapped into a text: sorry sounds so completely limp. But I am, for what it’s worth. I am sorry.

She got up. Packed her bag and left. I looked back to the twins who had somehow dislocated and were out of sync; the same but moving differently. I left too.


Written by elikafm

February 7, 2010 at 11:39 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Beautiful. I am sure you can slip into writing novels full-time and who knows the next best-seller might have your name on it….Cheers and have a great week


    February 8, 2010 at 11:10 am

    • You’re very kind. Have a great week too.


      February 8, 2010 at 11:24 am

  2. Wonderfully delicate, delightfully observed.
    I like the twins bit besterest.


    February 8, 2010 at 12:49 pm

  3. Mum’s got Tom. I’m at home with a cup of coffee and feet up. Then I found this. What a perfect morning!


    February 8, 2010 at 12:57 pm

  4. Want more.


    February 8, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    • I have a plan. A sort of story plan. I’ve never had one of those before. What I mean is, there will be more, which is a good thing, I think.


      February 8, 2010 at 10:30 pm

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