Brief Love

On our theme of emotions, here is a lovely piece by Stuart Hollyoak.  I think Ken Jones would be delighted that writing and haibun – haiku embedded in a short story – of this high quality can be found in Stonewater.

‘Brief Love
*
fetching my bag and jacket
called from behind
her smile

I found her last name in the supervisor’s register and, after several hours of hesitation, sent her a friend request on Facebook. When we met on the shop floor a couple of days later I did what you’re not supposed to do and told her about the request. I grew up for the most part in my own company so the intricacies of conversation are lost on me which would explain why she looked so startled. She had trouble logging on and we left it at that but a week or so later her profile picture had changed and we were still not, by Facebook standards, friends.

I never once asked myself whether she was beautiful or not. I didn’t fall for a face but for one whole gesture of affection.

Relationships are built on expectation and I had plenty of time to imagine what things she could expect of me: a baby; marriage; visits to the in-laws. I never saw myself holding her hand or kissing her lips or feeling her breath tickle the hairs on my chest.

hand in clammy hand
sway of our arms
cold fingertips

One day I got her to smile again – a well-timed fluke.

in my hand
a new till roll
and a piece of her heart

All I do each time we meet is ask her questions. At first they were a welcome show of interest but now they’re a part of the routine neither one of us wants to be a part of. If I catch her eye in a corridor she looks away. Her waves are either limp or non-existent and I have yet to receive a second high five. It’s our fault. We pulled the wool over each other’s eyes.

rousing from a dream
leg reaches out
only the cold mattress 

To salvage and repair:

just ahead
she walks alone
unsaid words, unsaid words

Monday shift
she smiles
at someone else’