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Chapter 2 Begins

“Afternoon, duck.”
She said nothing, flew past and didn't so much as turn her head. Maybe she hadn't heard him. No, she must have. She'd see him as she came along the road; he was in plain view and not standing still. And if she saw him she'd expect to be greeted, because that's what he did, without fail, to be neighbourly. “Morning, duck,” it was mostly. She was out on that bike early some days. Or did she object to being called 'duck', or 'love'--not used as often? How was a person meant to check these things? It wasn't that it meant anything; he called every female 'duck', whether she was nine or ninety. It was just friendly. He'd been calling her duck for months now; if she didn't like it she ought to say.
Or maybe (once or twice he wondered, even when she smiled and returned his greeting) she felt miffed because he never used her name. It was a coloured woman's sort of name (not every coloured woman, obviously, just West Indians sometimes, like the woman who worked in Barclays was Chauncey). If he tried he always seemed to come up with Florence, which it definitely was not. He hated the name Florence; hers, on the other hand, had sounded pretty.
Just proved he was slipping. No use beating round the bush; he'd dropped a gear. It was part of a cycle: uproot, then accelerate to new circumstances. Voraciously encounter and befriend, make promises, join groups and go like the clappers. Keep it up until that inaudible breaking point, after which he'd lag behind, lag behind and be tempted to ask himself if it wasn't time--
But it wasn't. Or it wasn't going to be.


January 2015



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