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Fifteen Minutes

Page 4

Mark Haines

Phil had met only one of Tim’s friends, by chance, one night, the encounter had been brief, awkward somehow, and the friend had left quickly. Nor had he met any of Tim’s family, there’d once or twice been some vague talk of a sister in Sydney, and that was it. Tim had met none of Phil’s friends, either, let alone his family. Did Phil know Tim at all?

And of course there were many other aspects to ponder, but chiefly there began to rise in Phil the feeling that it was too fast, he was just a young man after all, he wasn’t ready, he didn’t want to think about being ready, or be asked about it, he couldn’t commit like this, he couldn’t close off so many options, he didn’t want to settle down just then, and maybe never. Every so often Phil had had the fleeting feeling that things always went smoothly with and for Tim, he was used to getting what he wanted, materially, socially, perhaps with people too. And Phil resented that a little, resented how he might just be slotted in, too.

The moment began to hang in the air, the waiting started to seem painful, he had to say or do something. He was just leaning to pick up the coffee cup, when Tim ventured:

That’s probably a bit cold by now.

It was. Now Phil did speak up.

Look Tim you’re gonna have to let me think over all this for a while, you know? What you’re saying puts things on a whole new level, I’ll need to work that out.

This rather provisional reply actually heartened Tim somewhat, he may have feared a clearer, more immediate refusal. But then he said, Well, can I just ask you not to go with anybody else? I’m quite prepared to do the same…

But before he’d finished, Phil burst out:

Oh mate, that’s enough, that’s absolutely enough! And he turned away and looked into the street again. Perhaps he was thinking of just going, then and there, escaping an intensity that seemed incessant? It seemed not. After a time, he turned back, came and sat on the bed again. Tim moved closer to him.

And so the day continued.

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