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Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Day 59: Feels

The email came through to his work address. She usually WhatsApped, or called. He didn't think he'd even given her this email address. She must have found it somewhere online.

He read the message. Then he went back and read it again. Half an hour later, when Pat came to his cubicle to hand him the morning's sketches, he was still reading those three paragraphs -- for three paragraphs was all she had written him.

He minimised his email window, brought up the layout plans.

"How goes it?" Pat asked, ruffling his hair.

"Oh, fine," he replied.

When Pat left he got the email back up again.

Three paragraphs. That was all.

He looked at his hands on the keys of his keyboard. He looked at his wallet on his desk. The leather-bound day planner with the scruff on the front. The potted cactus, needing so little, needing something. "Like you," she had said. Before.

He looked at Percy, the green arms wrapped around his desk tidy in the corner. He looked in the dinosaur's big eyes. He reached out and touched the soft head, then took the toy's tiny hand in his own larger hand, held it tight.

He sat like that until Nikki came to see how the design was going. he let go of Percy, pretended to be arranging his desk.

"You OK, pal?"

"Oh, yes. I've got some errands to run this afternoon though."

He walked without knowing where he was going. The streets repeated. Kebab shops being set up for opening, overflowing bins, the little parks, the bus stops, the offices. They flitted by.

He found himself outside a large department store. Through the big glass doors he could see mothers dragging their recalcitrant children, elderly couples shuffling along, a gaggle of store workers stood around the perfume counter gossiping, touching each other on the arms, putting their hands over their mouths, all bending over in laughter.

The sun was going down and the street was getting dark, but inside all were lit by a warm glow.

He stood outside and looked in.

"May I ask, sir, whether you are happy with your current broadband supplier?"

The man with the clipboard was young, with a sharp stubble line and a piercing in one ear. There were flakes of dried wax in his hair. He had only made three referrals today. It was looking like another bad one. Well, he'd buy another of those six-packs on offer after work, roll a fatty, see if anyone online was up for a raid or two. There was always tomorrow.

The man he was addressing turned, and for one terrible moment the man with the clipboard thought the other was planning to attack him. What the other did instead was teeter, and then collapse into the folds of the man with the clipboard's coat.

Through the thick fabric and the rocking sobs the man with the clipboard caught only two words:

"She's gone."

- - -

That was a writing prompt to create a scene where a character was "upset about the news he had received", written without any "feeling" words. So no saying "he felt sad," for example. I think it could have gone better, but I was out looking at alpacas and climbing trees with Mike and Zoe all day, and then I collapsed when I got in. What can you do? You can't hear about an alpaca farm and not instantly go there. They're alpacas, for Chrissake!

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