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Page 3

Jane Downing

‘You make it sound shameful.’

‘A man in a mac by the river!’ Her face swam away and came into focus. Her blue eyes were serious, flecked with small lights of youth, or perhaps joy. Life.

‘I was chasing clouds like a butterfly collector.’

‘What would you do if you caught one?’

‘I don’t know. I can never make them mine.’

Janice hadn’t met his mother, and she had never seen his paintings. She imagined Turner skies and Monet water surfaces, though she rather suspected they’d be something her gran gushed about, ooh, isn’t that nice, at school fetes.

‘Tea?’ she offered as consolation.

‘I suppose I could go another one. Milky please.’



Pea and ham soup. The smell was unmistakable as he walked in. A connection was made, which inevitably led to that tune insinuating itself.

‘What are you singing?’ his mother asked as she shuffled into the kitchen.

‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,’ he hummed.

‘Patrick, your imagination was always beyond me. It’s August.’

‘And where did you get ham bones in August?’

‘The soup was in the freezer. And Gaby’s in the lounge.’ His short mother nodded over her shoulder.

Her name banished everything about the traditions of Christmas, leftovers, pea soup from the ham bones and all.

‘Gaby?’ He’d left the kitchen before his mother had the wooden spoon in the saucepan.

Gaby. She sat in her chair. He’d taken her for granted, missed her when she’d gone.

‘What did you tell mum?’ he demanded.

‘It’s more a question of what you told her. Six months, and she doesn’t know we broke up.’ Gaby made her flashy diamond obvious.

‘You know she doesn’t like change. I was breaking it to her slowly.’

‘And telling her you were going over to my place this afternoon was part of that plan?’ Her librarian’s bun was slipping loose, one stray tendril curling like Christmas tinsel  down her neck; it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas hooked back into his frontal lobe. 

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