Absent Friend

WotH Writers Writing

by Laura Paton

The rain falls like coins from a one-armed bandit. Jackpot, thinks Sam, as he watches the huge drops smacking onto the tarmac.

Sheltering under the hotel’s awning, he removes a cigarette from a brand-new packet, jams it between his lips and lights it, flicking the match out into the storm. Taking a long drag, he steps forward to get a better view of the folks coming down Fifth Avenue, searching for Vi in the crowd.

Office workers emerge from the subway, but before he can make out their faces, umbrellas are unfurled, hats donned and collars raised. Like an oil slick, they move along the sidewalk as one.

There’s laughter behind him. He turns to see a young couple leaving the hotel. Nodding their heads as they pass, they step out into the downpour and walk slowly away, love-blind to their already soaked clothes.

Sam checks his watch. She should’ve been here half an hour ago. He prays that it’ll still be raining when she finally arrives. He can picture it now. Her face flushed from exertion, she’ll make a hurried excuse about a last-minute task she had to finish before the weekend. He’ll listen, watching her blue-green eyes dart around, as she avoids looking directly into his.

It’s no day for admiring birds and flowers in the park, he’ll say, when she stops to take a breath. A downtown diner with steamed-up windows, coffee and slices of pie is what this weather calls for.

She’ll laugh, but won’t resist as he leads her to a shabby establishment on the corner of Crosby and Grand. They’ll find an empty booth in the back, where they can sit close, shoulders pressed together, only cotton between them.

Five minutes pass, and then the doorman appears with a telephone message.

© Laura Paton

  • Laura Paton is a property magazine editor by day and a food blogger and restaurant reviewer by night. Find other examples of her work at scribblinginthekitchen.wordpress.com