It was early May. There’d been two days of sunshine and already the tube trains were delayed due to ‘exceptional weather’. We knew that meant something else. And then came the rain.
‘I need a desk’ Luca said and we pattered around the second-hand shops. No coats, one umbrella. He found his desk. I browsed around the broken vinyl, chipped glasses and over-thumbed books. I turned to leave, the way you exit a party early; grateful, sad, sober. And then in the way it happens, I looked back and there she was.
She was on her own and a little the worse for wear. But that wasn’t the attraction. I could tell there’d been some bad treatment, some neglect, a casting aside. I got closer. She was upright, holding her own. I hesitated; the first move can go so wrong. But I had to make it. Did I need her more than she needed me? I couldn’t tell, but I could feel longing. Maybe it was the rain, the sudden chill in the air. I reached out to touch her.
‘House clearance’ said Luca. I thought of death and desertion and then a rolling around in a van with worn-out carpet and china cups no one had drunk from in years. Perhaps she didn’t need me at all or just someone who would take care of her better. We always think there is someone better.
I walked away. It was still raining and I began to put up my umbrella. Then came the click-clack. A beat of perfect timing, one to make your head turn and your heart flip. My head turned and my heart flipped. Luca was pressing the keys but I knew I wanted it to be me. I walked back towards her.