Friday 2 December 2022

Fiction Friday: Moments of Connection

It’s cold. I play with my breath, fogging in the air, pretending I can make smoke rings. The cold air burns my nostrils as I inhale, warms my mouth as I exhale. My hands are shoved firmly into the front pocket of my hoodie and my cheeks sting against the chill.

I pop into the shop, pick up the few pieces I need. It’s quiet; the few other patrons carefully ignore me and each other. The shop assistant looks directly at me and smiles without managing to hide their boredom. I return the smile, hoping to show sympathy. Pay, stuff the items into the small tote bag, and leave. Tote bag over my shoulder, I secure my hands back in my pocket and start back down the hill.

Silently, a jackdaw flies over my head to perch in a tree. I dodge the shit that falls from it as I step under the bough, and it flies away again.

There’s not as many cars on the road as normal, but enough I have to wait a moment. A white car slows; the driver lifts her hand from the wheel to indicate I can cross. I wave a thanks back, and our eyes meet. We share a smile that feels deep and genuine. Something inside me makes me feel as though she needed it as much as I did. It’s fleeting, gone as soon as I’m across the road and walking on the other pavement. The cold still stings my cheeks, but the warmth of connection stays in my chest.

The road ahead glides out of the fog as fast as the road behind falls into it. The smile stays with me until the looming delivery van’s door opens into my path. The driver steps out and brushes past me as though he didn’t see me, as though I wasn’t even there. I sigh, breath briefly obscuring my view, but keep walking.

Home. Put the things away. Put my favourite mug by the kettle, then head back to the front door to put away my hat and shoes.

There’s that sudden sense of sparkling presence that interrupts me here sometimes; a flash of colour, an exclamation as though shouted through water. It’s gone again by the time I get back to the kitchen, but I’m not surprised to find my mug is back in the cupboard.

There’s another presence here, and I’m not sure if they’re the ghost

or I.

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