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He did have exceptional hair. No end to it. And when he slept, he looked like a plant, uprooted, brown stems all tangled in a heap. He even smelled like wood. Earth. Damp things, forest things. He didn’t wear deodorant—he was dangerous. In the morning, at my table, peeling an avocado with a small, sharp knife. Hands full of fruit, a positive Caravaggio.

In the city, he was lost. Long fingers knotted in mine. Pumpkins, too fat and too orange, stared rudely from windows.

On the park bench, pigeons gathered round us. Never enough gossip to satisfy them all. He laid his dark lion’s head on my lap. The sunset was dragon’s breath—all trickery though, the afternoon was cold. England, after all.

I led him underground. The quickest way to get around—the quickest! Not the nicest.

Dark eyes. Ash.

Eventually: It’s dirty down here.

(I didn’t say it) it’s particles of passengers (but I didn’t say it).

The tube roared, furious. Tired.

He watched others, in costumes of the city.

I nudged him.

He eyed the gap with suspicion.

We went to a pop-up gallery, café, bar, projector, bare pipes and if you don’t want, NO ONE CAN MAKE you eat gluten. Pricey drinks. He ordered, he wanted to. His shoulder blades through his T-shirt like the stumps of wings. I’d told him to bring a coat. He came back with a pot. Stewed leaves.

You like tea, he said.

We sat under a lamp: orange, red. Hot. He didn’t mind, child of the sun. My lipstick coloured my cup rose. I saw him looking and reapplied, going for ‘worldly’.

Well. Silence followed. Stretched out like a white sheet then folded in on itself. Small, small, handkerchief-sized. I could put it in my pocket and carry it round every day. I’d seen us in our old age, avocados and everything.

I avoided the park. In winter it was no place anyway, all humiliated trees. Spring was the challenge. But I went, one day. Sat on the bench. Doodled in the margins of an old notebook. Pears and the like, plump rosebuds, vines.

Well. The pigeons came back.

Flash Fiction by Charlotte Newman
Picture: Pigeon by Robert Claypool under CC BY 2.0
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Published in Spring 2017


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