Monday, March 28

Good Friday

THERE HAD BEEN murmurs within the office of bad weather over the weekend (such is the very British trait of meteorological obsession) and I was not paying attention (bank holidays mean bad weather, ne’er will it change; I will endeavour to enjoy it regardless). After a rainy night out down the pub I awoke up to a startlingly sunny day – covering my eyes upon raising the blinds – and the smell of the fresh air lightened my spirits, although I was weak and tired. No coffee, that will only make me feel worse. A four-day weekend. I watched the football highlights on the t.v. and finally left the flat for Essex, somewhat behind schedule. The lady at the coffee counter had large hands, very large hands, but shapely and elegant, asking—‘Chocolate on top?’ She had been laughing gaily with a colleague when I approached but stopped having noticed my presence, another faceless customer. Hmm, so it shall be. I took my coffee and boarded the wrong tube, but so did many others helping me feel less silly (broken notice-boards and a sly driver). It was still a glorious day; blue skies and the most delicious promise of spring, if not spring itself, so that one perspired underneath their coat and inhaled all the warm colours. At N—y Park I had to transfer to a coach if I were to get back to my parents’. We all queued and I was the last to get on before the doors closed and sluggishly the vehicle pulled out of the carpark. The headrest was leather and cool to my neck. The gentleman to my left was texting a woman, very slowly and very precisely, his fingers on the keyboard. She was teasing him and he was telling her how aroused she was making him; I could read everything, all the symbols he was sending her. He must have been on his way to meet her. It seemed a good way to spend a Good Friday. In front of me a father and son sat on each side of the central aisle. The son, only ten-years-old or so, was reading a picture book and the father in his polo shirt was obsessed with the child; he could not leave his son alone; constantly he kept reaching out, stroking his son’s arm, playing with him, picking bits of lint off his t-shirt. The son was uninterested, apparently used to the affection, and unaffected. Never had I seen such an affectionate father. I dozed in & out, taking in the flirting gentleman and the doting father. All the while the sun beat through the window and heated the inside of the coach as it groaned along.
Two hours later I got to the restaurant where I was meeting my family. My mother was waiting outside for me, her granddaughter in her arms. My niece is so chubby. I squeezed her leg, said—‘Hello gorgeous!’ and kissed her in her hair, which smelled wonderful. I have come to associate the smell of her hair with the smell of love. I could not explain it to you if I tried, but the tender aroma that comes from her fine hair is perfect to me, and I can think of no greater smell. I kissed her cheek and she flinched away from me—‘How are you doing, huh?’ We went inside the restaurant and I said hello to everyone. Everyone was in a good mood and drinking wine and cocktails; coke for me. ‘Sit next to—’ my mother told me to sit next to my niece and I needed no persuasion. She was in her high-chair and had been provided crayons. I held the paper for her while she scribbled. She has fat little hands and fat little fingers. She cannot distinguish between the paper and the table. Every time she threw a crayon on the floor, I picked it up for her. It was a game. The crayons came in a cup, brought by a Mexican waitress who I thought was gentle and pretty to behold. She had breasts that sloped down her body and flicked up at the end. I wished I knew her better. Instead, picking up the crayons entertained me enough. It was a spectacle, too, watching my niece draw with all the multicoloured crayons. My parents got drunk. As my mother likes to complain when drunk, so does my father like to spout optimism and carelessness—‘O, that doesn’t matter!’ ‘Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter!’ The waitress returned—‘Don’t hold that tray of hot drinks over the child!’ scolded my mother. The waitress moved, embarrassed. I was embarrassed, too. My chances of getting to know the waitress had gone, although she did not hold a grudge; she spun around gracefully as before, attentive and polite, but quiet. I could not bear to be served by her. The sea could be seen beyond the large window, slightly blue and slightly brown, swishing and forming white lines that cradled toward the shore. The wind blew. Gulls hung motionless in the air. Over the pier in the distance lights flashed and rides spun. It was good to be home. I put all of the crayons in the cup and we left the restaurant with the sun setting and the cold wind blowing.

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