Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Our glorious past

She was talking to her friend across the top the wide and stormy surface of the two champagne glasses, the bubbles rose, dispersed and defused into the conversation, their pink tinge shadowing the words, underlining the points and occasionally, when oxygen was paused for and breathe sucked in, added their own drunken punctuation. “There is nothing at all wrong with that previous sentence”, said the dark haired lady, “I simply wanted to remind you of the great heritage to which we belong, years of activity, expression, theatre and glamour, stretching back into the black, the white, the sepia. The squeals and the traditions, it's all there, exciting and fascinating for us, entrancing for them”. Up popped a bubble. “We can't afford not to maintain the standard of our predecessors’, or even exceed them, the drugs do work.” She giggled as the bubbles burst and she snapped a finger at the young, ginger waiter. She said nothing just momentarily met his eye and pointed a long finger down towards the glass. The boy nodded and spun off towards the dark and mysterious place in the cafe, behind the bar.

“This career has made me a snob and I love it for that, it's done more for me than any man...or woman, I owe it something”. A fresh bottle arrived pristine in a bright white stem ironed napkin, the neck spurting a faint fog as it was tilted and poured. There was no conversation. “A toast!” Declared the blonde lady, “To a glorious past and richer, finer future!” They giggled and there was a brief silence as the drank from the flutes in a well practiced move that avoided wetting the lips or smudging the lipstick. “...And darling, I will not be eating this afternoon as I have such a schedule, such a time and my shape and that is my livelihood to look after...as ever in the grandest style.”

From his station the waiter watched the two converse, occasionally scanning the tables for new customers or signals for attention. Today, this afternoon things were quiet, a light drizzle was falling, the pavement cafes were chewing on the remaining clientele, it was nearing the end of the season, the leaves had lost the summer sheen and were beginning to wrinkle. His gaze returned to the two women, he focused on their necks, the early wrinkles, stretches, tones and pale skin, half hidden by scarves and collars. Then he looked up and saw as a single leaf fell from a tree branch that was stretched across the cafe sunshade, it floated lazily down from above, almost floating from side to side like a parachute and then with it's own strangely determined trajectory landed gently in the champagne glass of the dark haired lady. Time was passing.

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