Friday, November 7, 2008


There were beautiful women at the other tables. That was the thing with this cafe. People made an effort. They dressed for breakfast in fashions that were expensively casual. There was makeup, subtle, or playful, blue eyeshadow and little swirls of pink on cheeks that complimented a spray of pink or orange hair dye. People glanced at each other, coveting. They glanced at her table but they looked away again. He noticed this. He made his face seem cheerful, his default setting. She looked up from her book and closed it without marking her place or memorising the page number. He watched her clumsily push her seat back from the table, spilling a little of her coffee. She thrust her hand out to him and when he took it he noticed with relief that it was warm and dry. She had a firm enthusiastic handshake.

He smiled warmly. He felt exhausted suddenly, a tiredness that crept up on him and lingered.

"Hello." He made his voice sound bright, interested. She stared at him too firmly. He noticed that she barely blinked. The beautiful people at the other tables laughed and toyed with their fromage fresh with wild berries. He shrugged into the chair. She was reading Proust, Way by Swann, but he noticed she had turned the book face down as if she were embarassed by this. He only knew what it was by the little picuture of Proust on the spine. He knew it was the new translation and he wanted to ask her how it compared to the one he had read but she curle her fingers over the book self-consciously and slipped it into her handbag.

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