General

I've been so lost in constructing scenarios for the evening ahead that I'm surprised to see how far I've come. Already the cafe is in sight. There's nothing slick about it, no fancy fonts or white etching upon the glass. You could pick the whole thing up and send it back thirty years and it wouldn't look out of place. There aren't any tables with fancy umbrellas, just the uneven pavement baring the cracks of age. Despite the late hour I can still hear music from inside, the kind of rolling Jazz Louis always plays a little too loud for the neighbours liking. But I'm not here to sit at the bar and chat with him until the wee hours, I'm here to see David. He'll already be in there looking like he's been stood up, but he knew I'd be late, so he'll wait. Suddenly all my preparations flee my mind like scared children, my brain feels full of static like an old television set that's lost the signal. I stop. Part of me is screaming to turn around, but I know my future is in there...

General

The dress that had hung so limply on the svelte mannequin is now the only separation between my skin and the creeping midnight chill. In the heady heat of noon it was as tempting as ice water, now all I want is a cute jacket to throw over the top. Up ahead is our rendez-vous, the cafe where we first met. I can already see the front, the street tables that are so busy in the day all stand empty, lonely without their chairs. I've never seen the orange paint look so grey, so blackish. The only splash of the friendly tangerine is in a spreading spot from the glow of a streetlamp. The hunger I had felt on the bus has been replaced by a rising feeling of unwellness in my stomach and below the clack of my heels my heart beat pounds it's own quickening rhythm. I had expected the streets to be almost empty, and whilst I don't need to weave through the crowds of earlier, there are a few folks about. I guess that's life in the city for you, the finest place to be alone in the crowds.

General

On any other August evening I would have smiled at the couples filling the cafe sidewalk. I would have seen my future reflected in them, my hand being touched gently by a man who adored me and a shy smile playing on my lips. But not tonight. Tonight I tug at the new dress the store assistant swore looked so flattering. Now I wonder if he'll think it's too short. With each tug the front goes lower and so I stop. With no time to go home to change I'm just going to have to wing it. Those women at the tables look so casual, some aren't even wearing make-up. Maybe I should have done that - show him I'm so at ease in our relationship that I can show up in the jeans I wore all day. At least in the fading light the colours aren't so garish, so bold; because inside I just want to find a quiet place to hide. I pull out my phone, not to check for messages, but to flick through some photographs of him. There's something about these candid shots that sets my heart racing almost too fast...

General

The day had ebbed by slower than old treacle. Mark's usual slouch had been replaced by a stiff mannequin pose. Melinda would be at the old pub at seven thirty, Melinda with the blue eyes and warm smile. He imagined touching her straw coloured hair as he kissed her, told her a funny joke and bought her whiskey and coke. He could already hear the chatter of the other patrons and taste the salt & vinegar crisps. He'd been awful at work, the boss had had to tell him everything three times and he had gotten half his usual volume done. At home he'd slumped into a chair with the internet, it had been seven before he checked the time again. He hadn't showered, planned what to wear or which bus to take. He'd stuck his hands in his pockets for bus fare, notes were no good - exact fare only. He'd pulled out a handful of coppers and sworn more fluently that he had done since high-school. His brain had buzzed unproductively until he'd run out in his work clothes to hail a cab...

General

Tyler wasn't about to wait another minute, this chick was late and he wasn't having it. Her picture wasn't that great anyway, likely there were better looking women in the club tonight - like the one coming down the sidewalk at that moment. Her hair was straight black, eyes dark, figure a perfect hour glass. Out of habit his eyes fell to her hand to look for rings. When she stopped right in front of him he prepared to give her directions, she didn't really look like she belonged here anyway, she was like a magazine cut-out dropped onto the Brooklyn sidewalk. "Hey, Tyler?"

His usual swagger fled faster than a gambler from a bookie. He swallowed. "Um, yeah. That's he. I mean me. I'm Tyler." She smiled, eyebrows raised and extended a manicured hand.

"Olivia. Shall we get out of here?" Tyler took his hands out of his pockets, suddenly unsure of where to put them. Shyness wasn't usually his gig, what the hell was going on here?

"Um, yeah. Where d'ya wanna go? I know some good places..."

General

Graham looked at his phone for the sixth time in four minutes. In his jeans and t-shirt he blended into the scenery as well as the drab store-fronts; but in his mind he was dressed in neon and the passers by observed that Sheila hadn't arrived yet. They were purposeful or chatting to a friend, some drank coffee and others hid behind sunglasses in the almost bright spring morning. As he scanned for her short form, dark hair and trade-mark red jacket some of the eyes turned his way, their faces hard. Then he checked his phone again. No message. It was almost three, the time of their meeting. He resolved next time to meets somewhere he didn't feel like a flag, somewhere he could sit and hide behind an electronic device or newspaper, a cafe perhaps. A black cab pulled in from nowhere, obscuring his view of the underground entrance he thought she would appear from. As he took a step to see past it the door swung open and her thick Irish accent came out, "Get yer arse in here, beautiful..."

General

On the wall that has been crumbling these past twenty years, Toby sits, letting his eyes roam over the graffiti. With the finger of his right hand he feels the cracks and the pits made by so many seasons of hail and rain. Today, like the sidewalk weeds, they are dry. His left hand tightens involuntarily around the candy bars, making the wrappers crinkle. They had seemed like such a great idea in the store, something they had eaten when they were kids, back when they were just two spotty teens throwing aeroplanes at the back of class. What if in the last two decades she'd become someone else, prim and well-to-do? For all her antics, Gale was the smart one. What if she just looks at them like they're cheap candy and chocolate. Come to think of it they're kind of hard to chew and they make a mess. Before he can stow them behind the wall he hears her, "Toby! Is that Curly Wurly's?! Awesome!" It's Gale, an older version, but still in jeans, casual, smiling...

General

It's never a great sign when my conversation-to-be is sounding witty in my head. For the most part it's a signal of the over confidence that comes before a big fall. I have to learn to be more natural, less rehearsed. I'm early of course, I have to be; it's part of who I am. It won't look that way through. Once she arrives I'll saunter round the corner, hands in pockets, hair casually ruffled just the way she likes it.