She drove you back through the dark through the burning conurbations, light-thrilled streets, bending round roundabouts; she leaned into corners and pulled up sharp. She came with the night, laughed a lot, and told jokes you couldn’t quite get. She wished you luck for after all you deserved it when you deserved nothing.
Began with a tickling of flattery and hands and fingers on your wrist, round yours. She was like music already heard, already there in your head. Visiting her ground floor flat, through the tangle of shrubs and bramble to her front door. Curtains always drawn, her pale thighs leading the way. Her dog ate the sandwich you brought.
She’d look out for you but wouldn’t stalk. She might look you up on Facebook. On hers she liked Martini Espressos and true crime boxsets, she ran round a park in spring and autumn, too hot in summer she said. A snap of her as she ran under trees her white T shirt catching the sun through leaf shadow; she appeared speckled with light.
You preferred her driving through the night, weed on her breath. A heartiness when she opened the car door to let you in. She was saying goodbye, she was going away, going cold. You’ll remember details, what books were in the bookcase, the big leafed plants standing guard, the shadows in her flat. You couldn’t tell what music was coming from the car stereo. She was wishing you all the luck in the world.
Alan Beard has two story collections out, Taking Doreen Out of the Sky (Picador, 1999) and You Don’t Have to Say (Tindal Street Press, 2010). He has had numerous stories and flashes in magazines and anthologies, in the UK, USA and Canada including Malahat Review, London Magazine, Warwick Review, Critical Quarterly, Best British Short Stories 2011 (Salt). On X: @AlanBeard4.