Friday, December 29, 2006

Rosedale platform, under a mild night's sky

Caucasian woman, late 20s, with long brown hair tied back in a neat ponytail, wearing broad purple frames, a long red wool coat and a green and red flecked angora scarf. She cracks the spine a few times and begins, using the gift tag as her bookmark.

The Whole Story and Other Stories, Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)

Page 1:

There was a man dwelt by a churchyard.
Well, no, okay, it wasn't always a man; in this particular case it was a woman. There was a woman dwelt by a churchyard.
Though, to be honest, nobody really uses that word nowadays. Everybody says cemetery. And nobody says dwelt any more. In other words:

When she gets to page 3 she'll find a confession of love scribbled into the spine. It won't be from the young man who gifted her the book, it was bought second-hand. Still, she'll think, People just don't use words like this anymore. She'll stand. She'll look down the platform, both ways. She'll look at the sky, blank. She'll draw her purse strap over her shoulder and think, Think, think, think. She'll head toward the stairs and stop, halted, on the first step. She'll bounce on the balls of her feet and look back at the platform.

She knows he's only home for the holidays.

But when they'd emerged from the pub a fog had rolled in so thick that he'd taken her arm and guided her away from the curb like it was cliff. They'd walked through the emptying streets, her arms circled around his, childhood friends falling into the other's step, their short breaths pulled into the dense blanket that enclosed them. We could scream all our secrets and no one would hear them, she’d said. I’ve only the one, he’d replied, giving her waist a gentle squeeze.

A blast of air from the incoming train will catch her ponytail in a swirl. She’ll glance up the stairs, adjust her purse strap again, and place her hand on the railing.

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