Details of the mind // short story

You wouldn’t believe it: she said yes. We’ll be meeting next Saturday at the The Mirage. She was telling me all about her love for the Italian cuisine (and how, coincidentally, her name is of Latin origins). Indeed, by a generous whirl of fate, we share a common love. Oh, I do not know what I have done to deserve this good fortune!

I shall have to get myself some new clothing. My wardrobe has become too stale for her tastes – she is very much fashionable herself. Also, I will need some better perfume than the sweat-sticks I have at home. I remember reading an article about the powers of scent. It wasn’t entirely convincing, but, nonetheless, it’s better to be on the safer side. Shall I have to plan for the time after the dinner as well? Romance is often bred in the twilight and birthed in the night. Perhaps I will have a look at the area tomorrow. A quiet little park would be terrific. Like that one right there! What time is it? Six. No wonder the children are all out playing. But they are not at the see-saws or the monkey-bars, the slides or swings. Golly, they’re gathered around a phone, staring into its candy screen and exclaiming collectively at intervals. Alas, the children of the warped new age.

Anyway, where was I? I don’t remember. How old age poisons the memory. Yes, old age. The lady watering her junipers must surely know of this. The water hose shudders like a wild serpent and her frail hands quiver. Should I offer some help? Hold on, isn’t she that lady from church – the one who sits at the front most pew? I am quite certain of it. Furthermore, it is only chivalrous to assist.

A loud horn, a screech, a blinding flash of the light. The tarmac seemed to rise up towards me. That was close – all too close. The car vanished at the turn before I could regain my calm. I should probably buy a lottery ticket for today.

The lady is gone. The water hose wriggles and writhes on the garden grass. Perhaps an urgent call from the bladder had her rushing in. That was funny – “urgent call from the bladder”. I’ll use that next Saturday. That might coax a little laugh from her.

Did I tell you how I made her laugh the other day? She said that her health wasn’t well. I thought for a while then replied her, with a sort of feigned perplexity and jocose sarcasm, that the expression was something I have never heard of before. And then, slightly embarrassed, she chuckled. I parlayed my winnings of course. Attempted at a couple more jokes, at coaxing out a couple more of those dainty laughs. Not all the bets succeeded. I had to explain some, but tried always to meander around those awkward rocks. I do hope, and very earnestly, that next Saturday will go as well as it did on that day. First impressions are usually important, aren’t they?

I never knew that this house had a guard. I suppose its majestic size and diligence in decoration has always been an effective distraction. The guard looks ferocious, as if at the sight of an intruder, he would rip off his sleeves to reveal a canvas of tattoos and then proceed zealously in his duty. Wait, what’s that behind him? Not a thief, no – he would know. A snake – slithering silently towards his feet! And behind the snake, that old lady who was just watering her junipers. What was she doing there? No time to reason; I have to warn the guard. Hurry now, before the snake sinks its venom into him!

I wish to call out to him. But I am without a voice. What has happened to my strength? And why won’t my legs move. The tarmac rises once more. I hear the guard shouting out to me indistinctly. No, I’m not the intruder. It’s the old lady! She has let her snake on to you. Please, you have to listen. A blow; great and unforgiving in force. I don’t think I can escape this time.

The light sears and the air smells sterilized. Who is this blurry figure that stands before me? I hear her, slightly muffled: “remember me? I spoke to you just last week..” Of course I do, Klara. Of course.


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