Missed the Boat

27.04.06 |

A Fictional Story of the Same Name
as printed in A Ramp Magazine Issue#4, 2006

It could have taken place at the all-day, every-day pancake house on the main drag downtown, packed with sprawling young families and awkward, Sunday, morning-after couples. And just as likely as that, it could have started the night before, between novel page turning, during the noticeably loud commercial breaks, during the lull before the lights go progressively lower and the feature film begins, during that time between the beginning and ending of pumping petrol, that time people fill by washing their windscreens. Even more likely, it could have turned up during a conversation, one in which listening seems just as important as the advice one might give in reply; the head tilting slightly to one side, leading into the speaker’s ellipsing off until the eyes meet again or even until one uses the overused embarrassed sentence of “Sorry to bother you with this” I mean I didn’t mean to bring it up again.

It was not an act of avoidance or procrastination or even a bout of laziness. It was very matter of fact; it had been planned for, clothes laid out, things packed away, cherished gifts stored in a way that they could handle the bustle of transport. Words of parting had even been embraced, as had the words of anticipation and arrival, of promise.

And then it happened. Began as the pour of coffee hit the bottom of the cup. Not preceded by a pang of doubt nor followed by her hands reaching out to steady herself, nor even, surprisingly enough, a sigh. Instead it buried itself inside the blackness of coffee, slowly settling as grounds.

Ordinarily there would be a paper to accompany the tradition. Instead there was only cup and saucer, window. It all unfolded: the looking away, the roving eyes thinking it through, the slight squint, the lip movement, the wrinkling of forehead, the shaking of head in disapproval or in realising that the order of events was unrealistic.

Transport. An array of car, taxi, bus, tram, walking, catching or standing options. The combination of one with the other, the likelihood of success, traffic or accident, the need for exact coin change versus timetable or language barrier. On this particular day the coffee stayed warmer longer, so there was no specific end to force her into action. Instead, as the last swallow left a gritty trail in cup and mouth, she watched as time became the moment of her departure. Beyond regret or foolishness she imagined the sensation of pulling away, of water and depth, of ebb and resistance, of leaving and being left.

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