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Paying Attention

He's fifteen minutes late, but she's not unduly worried; men are seldom punctual and it's a fine evening. She watches other couples greeting, and strolling away arm in arm.

The clock strikes eight thirty. He could have phoned, she thinks. But perhaps he's forgotten to put his phone on charge; he's always doing that.

At eight forty-five she shifts restlessly on her high heels. Maybe his car broke down, she reasons, and because his phone's dead he's stranded somewhere.

At nine fifteen she's wondering whether he'd said to meet at nine, not eight. She probably wasn't listening properly, she thinks, so maybe just another fifteen minutes.

By nine thirty it's getting dark. People are looking curiously at her, and one man keeps walking past, staring boldly.

Too late now for the film, maybe they'll have a quick drink somewhere then go back to her place. She won't be cross when he comes, there's probably a very good reason for the no-show. If he'd changed his mind he surely would have phoned. But then again his phone's not working.

The man walks past again and she begins to feel uneasy.

Perhaps, she thinks, he'd said Saturday, not Friday. Relief floods through her body. That's it. Just like her to get it wrong. Not listening properly.

She takes the underpass to the bus station. Everything will be fine, tomorrow they'll laugh about this.

Behind her, muffled by her clicking heels, soft footsteps trace her progress, getting closer.

But she's not listening properly.

Story by:

Sandra Crook

29 July 2012

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