Tuesday, August 14

Long Black’s Gone Up Thirty-pence

IT WAS WHEN she started to make mental notes on the people serving coffee that she realised she no longer cared for the young man who sat beside her; the other people were there in the beginning, she just wasn’t paying attention. A good cup of coffee will set you back almost three quid. Some of the less extravagant items are less. He paid. He always paid. They would both get something to eat but in the end she didn’t want to eat, and he ate because it was a good reason for not talking. It’s rude to talk through a mouthful of food. They first visited the café together before a gig; tickets in his pocket; good young infatuation that smashes china plates and sets off church bells; electric looks; dynamite stashed in each other’s limbs. A week and a half after the gig she asked him if he had a condom. She liked the way he walked out of the bathroom, and he liked the way she laughed so dirty. But at the start it was something simpler than that: it was the way his knee brushed hers under the table in the café. Maybe you don’t understand. Maybe knees or accidental collisions never did it for you – in which case, good luck – but they did it for her. It was accidental, but she liked it. Some things, they just set you off. He accidentally brushed his knee against hers and she thought about it for the rest of the day. She thought about it on their next journey to the café. Then, in the end, when he accidentally brushed his knee against hers, it annoyed her. She moved away. He apologised through a mouthful of some pastry or other. He didn’t even look good when he ate. No etiquette. Long after they broke up, when the price on a long black had gone up thirty-pence, she was dragged in there by a friend. It was raining and they just went in there to keep dry. Either way, she kept her knees to herself. The rain didn’t look like it would last long.

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