This article is taken from Stand 237, 21(1) April - June 2023.

Simon Howells Box
Her shoes were a surprise. Flat and broad, resigned. Like my mother might wear. She usually wore something raised and narrow. As she sipped her sherry, she kicked a leg up. ‘Nice, isn’t it?’ Though whether she was referring to the shoe or the leg I wasn’t certain. ‘It pays to go all the way to the floor with a person,’ she said. Shoe, then. Could she read thoughts? The phone started ringing in a faraway room that was next door. ‘That fucking thing,’ she said as the noise wended through the fine house. Her husband’s answering voice could be heard. Quick and barking. At the same time, faint, ancient. Each room was a world here. The swear word, meanwhile, hung about like a bad smell. I was still wrinkling my nose.‘You want her back?’ she said and I nodded. I had grown up in a small house where people skirted the main issue and a question was an affront. ‘Not much passion in a nod,’ she said. I went to answer, but she was sipping and I waited, admiring the blue-grey folds of her hair. By the time she had finished, I had lost the words. Anyway, she wanted a refill.  I started for the decanter, the journey was long. Then, standing with crystal in my hand, I had a moment – suddenly out of my depth, I thought I might never breathe again. Then she clucked for her tipple and I went back. ‘Does she know?’ she said and the husband’s distant voice sounded assured despite serious financial difficulties.

‘Does she know what?’ It had been ages since I had spoken ...
Searching, please wait... animated waiting image