A tale of the lone and the lonely.

Twenty Years Ago

Ten Years Ago

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About ten years ago she lost her job.  My friend told me it was just a business decision.  Not enough book sales in bookselling.  

She continued to go to the harbour every day but now she took a bottle of wine with her.  Fair enough, she was not on her lunch break so why not have a glass of wine with lunch.  

She sat on the bench long after the ferry had disembarked finishing her wine.  

When I finished my duties and had filed my papers in the office, if she was still on the bench I would take my book and read on the bench outside my office.

Sometimes she would talk to me on her way back to her cottage.  

Little things: the gulls, the waves, the price of spinach.  

I remember thinking there were many things nicer than spinach, there were many better things to complain about. Nonetheless I found myself putting a bunch of spinach in my basket later that night.  

I imagined a conversation in which I laugh, ha, ha, I bought too much spinach last night, would she like this bit.  

I even took the spinach to work the next day before realising how ridiculous I was being.  


I asked my friend about spinach and he lent me a book on cooking vegetables.  

For a while I harboured the fantasy of inviting her to dinner and surprising her with my vegetarian cooking.  

My veg is wonderful now, always cooked to the exact point, always enhanced with a little flourish like garlic butter or loganberry jam.  But I have not asked her to dinner.  

Not yet.

One day I was so close to finishing a book I carried on past my break.  I don't like reading for much longer than my official break time.  

It was To Kill a Mockingbird, the last book she had recommended before losing her job.  

She walked up, I held the book to show her the cover and said I had finished it.  

I was going to ask if she could still recommend books even though she was not working in the bookshop anymore but she stopped so suddenly and sighed so deeply I was struck silent awaiting her pronouncement.  

Wonderful, she said, so wonderful.  Can you imagine being Boo: every day people laugh at you, but you know one thing, one day you will be the only person who can save Scout.  She looked at me, a smile on her lips, a tear on her cheek.  

She looked at me for a long time before reaching for me.  Or reaching for the book.  I don’t know which as she changed her mind.  Withdrew her hand.  

Though of course he didn't know that, she added and left.  I watched her walk to the corner.

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Walk Away

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