“Yes, Mandy, I’ll come to your party. At seven? Okay, great. Yeah, catch ya laters,” She hung up.
Immediately the inbox flashed on screen. One message waiting.
Hey, what’s up? R u goin to Mandy’s party 2nite? D.
Yeah, sure, she replied.
Quickly she scrolled down to her phonebook and found Janice. “Mandy just phoned about a party… and you’ll never guess what… Dave asked if I were going… yeah, like, he’s so cool; a real interesting guy.”
Her bag vibrated; a message.
Im glad ur goin, D
Yeah, me 2. She phoned up Sapphire and related the whole tale. “Hey babe, what are you wearing tonight?”
She turned into New Look for a classy number. Sweet vibrations. “Stitch!!!” She screeched. “I’m good. Yeah, I’m going too… Dave asked me out. Yeah, great innit? Yeah, I hope Josh ain’t going too. Ok, laters.”
Sophia wandered the cluttered aisles of the clothes shop marvelling at the array of stock held within the white gleaming walls. She seemed bedazzled but eventually chose a white dress. Her legs shifted weight nervously; as if she anticipated something. Her hand touched her pocket; it burned. Sophia wanted Michelle to phone her. It had to be that way round; not the other way round again. Vibrations brought a smile; possible relief or anticipation; certainly pleasure. After snatching the receipt she legged it out of the shop and whipped the phone from her pocket. Another message awaited her.
See u later then, D.
Man he was cool. The High Street was busy. Yeah u 2, she replied. Quickly she sent messages to Sapphire and Janice about her dress choice. It was an essential business that their colour schemes did not clash; unlike her path through life.
Upon turning a corner she smashed right into a fellow with floppy hair and a clean jaw. Pain erupted in her shoulder as she spun one-eighty. She came perilously close to falling into the mystical herb seller whose main sales pitch was slapping shoppers in the face with her produce. All Sophia saw was an old woman with a poor taste in clothes.
“Stupid prick,” she muttered.
Instantly her phone came out of her bag. Fingers raced across the miniature keypad telling everyone on her list, except her mum, what just happened. The phone was thrust into her bag in the expectation of mass sympathy.
She needed to calm down; a reward for stressful times. Sophia knew just the thing. She turned one-eighty, dove right through the crowd and into Costa Café, not looking at who she bumped into, ordered a café macchiato with marshmallows and sat down by the window. She scrunched her face up; her bag had not vibrated for a while. Her fingers tingled and twitched. Her eyes darted to the bag every other second.
Were they busy? Did they not care that the floppy haired prick had ruined her day? All the permutations ran through her head. Though, she called them excuses. Did they find it amusing? Were Sapphire and Janice secretly planning to upstage her dress choice? Was Dave chatting up some other slut with his charm and wit? Did she just hear someone click their fingers?
She could resist it no longer. Perhaps her phone had turned itself onto silent mode; no vibrations. Her hand darted into the bag and began to rummage. The floppy haired, clean jawed, man smiled from across the street; his work done. She did not notice. Sophia grappled with her eye-liner, mirrors, lippy, brush, hair pins, foundation, tissues, card holder, purses, coupons and key rings.
Then her hand fell upon something cold. Its surface was smooth, hard to the touch yet discreetly pliable. Around three of its six surfaces she felt multiple divisions. In the crowd, and in the corner of her eye, the man melted into the beauty of her town. The beauty she could not see for its blatant lack of hedonistic pleasure.
From the bag she withdrew a book. Its cover was a tie-dye of Mediterranean seas over a forest on top of which sat a simple white donkey above the words:
The Silver Donkey
She wanted to throw it down. She wanted to have her phone back. Her fingers tingled with thwarted anticipation. Her heart and head screamed to know what her friend’s thought of her incident. Instead she found herself clutching a book she had never seen before. More, Heat, those were her reading not some book.
An urge burned throughout her to just leave it on the café table or throw it in the nearest bin; just outside of Woolworths. She wondered if the corners of the book could be used to gouge out the silly man’s eyes. As her eyes surveyed the cover, picking out distant, faint, branches and the donkey’s little white ears, the rage faded. It reminded her of those white horses in Wiltshire she saw while listening to Artic Monkeys and The Killers in the car. Read My Mind She made to leave. Stood up and gathered her bags. The book sat on the table. Blue-green surrounded by red. Her cup was far from empty. She wanted to…
…turn the first page.
Words to France; she had never been there. Were the woods the same? World War I brought back dim memories of Wilfred Owen; she felt sad but could not recall why. Then sympathy, genuine sympathy, perhaps for the first time when came the blinded soldier. Her heart leapt then melted with joy at Coco and Marcelle.
When she turned the last page, a tear in her eye for the ending of a story, she looked down at her table and there sat her phone. Placed beneath it was a simple note with a message and phone number.
You looked truly at peace reading your book.
The phone number was hers.