Rebecca Hattersley

 

 

 

The Art of Push and Pull

 

“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” Joseph despairs. “Do you ever just, shut up?”

Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. SLAM. His wife pulls away in the silver Audi.

From the basement flat below, Jenny perfects her wine-stained smile in a hand mirror. “Clever kitty,” she says, recalling the tabby cat’s purring consent.

Joseph wonders if the young woman downstairs has overheard their disagreement.

Only once or twice has coincidence brought them together, in passing to their respective front doors, with awkward pleasantries about the relentless drizzle or the charismatic feline skilled in the art of acquiring cold meat scraps. Her recent compliment on his Breton stripe jersey had left him bumbling; she actually touched his arm, as if they were on familiar terms.

Joseph switches on the radio and selects a lively classical number. Remembering that his eldest daughter and her new boyfriend are joining them that evening for his legendary wild mushroom and taleggio pizza, he begins to whistle. A crisp apple tart will bring the affair to a fine conclusion.

Jenny drapes a sliver of cheese across a cracker. Then a single bite that occupies her cheeks for what seems longer than necessary.

“How small I will appear, under the sheets of his bed,” she confides, softly.

Tonight, dressed in floral crepe de chine, Jenny will knock. Wrapped in a tea towel at her breast will be an ailing sourdough.

Joseph pulls on his gardening shoes and heads outside to sow cornflowers in time for his wife’s return. He scatters the seeds with uncharacteristic abandon, rakes the earth in a private display of tenderness. Still, the arrival of seedlings never fails to raise a smile, a hand slipped in hand.

Jenny reaches for the flour and sets to work on her ill-fated creation.

 

 

 

Rebecca Hattersley is a freelance writer and creative living in Brighton. . Her first novel is in progress. Follow her on Twitter @ifindyoucurious  This is her website.

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