criticism and comments appreciated.

"metronome" is the title. apologies to those who have read this before.


I don't want to control time. But sometimes I wish I could turn back and change two minutes. Or maybe just one- I don't even have to erase anything. Maybe I just want the extra time. One more minute. That makes all the difference. For instance, in bed, what if I had that one more minute before I spent myself, when the girl is close to climaxing, and then stops because she realises I've already had my fun? And then she becomes bitter and resents the limpdick thrusting or the attempt to get her off with my tongue. Not that I blame her. Not at all. I'd get angry too. Maybe if I weren't so bloody impatient. That's what my friend Brian would say. But, really, I don't think I'm that impatient at all.

I want to write, but it's difficult. My job is menial and boring. I work with numbers. It doesn't offer much for the imagination, and it doesn't provide much fodder for the next great British Novel. So, some nights, I'll sit in my apartment, looking out at the bars on the windows, and think and write. The next day, at a pub, over a pint, I'll hand Brian my work, my artistic triumph of the evening.

'Oh yeah,' he'd say, 'I was there. I remember that. That's not a very interesting story... And you make me look like such a poof.' And I'd grab it back, notice a typo or
two, and say, 'That's because you are.'

Once I fell and broke my elbow. I was climbing a ladder, counting boxes, doing inventory. I raised my foot to climb to a higher step, and with one of those slight (mis)calculations that will make or break your life, I slipped. I felt the metal rung slide off the bottom of my rubber sole. My arms flailed. And as I squirmed in the air to ensure that I'd land precisely on my bloody elbow, I tried as hard as I could to rewind that one minute. To try again and look bloody down at the ladder I was climbing up.

My elbow was broken. I knew it. You know these things, if you've ever broken something. But I went back to work, because I knew with my elbow in a sling, I'd be near worthless at my job, and I sure as hell wouldn't be making overtime. This, to me, is a good example of the triumph of will. I tamed the pain. Some said I could go back to work because my elbow was in 'shock.' But I tell you, it bloody well hurt. That was me controlling my pain. And I'm still working on controlling time. Pain and Time, to me, are like brothers. I feel that I'm close to cracking Time's secret code.

My bosses weren't too happy about my broken elbow. They had to give me time off. The doctors gave me something for the pain, and I'd take the train when I got bored. One day I took a train to Oxford to examine the buildings there. Just because. It was a drippy day. There was one section where the street was sporadically paved with milky green glass. It was pleasant. I'd take a package of McVitie's with me- the wheatmeal sort. I can't stand the other stuff. I adore the buttery wheatmeal. And I'd take a package with me because my physician said that I'm hypoglycemic. It's a blood sugar condition which leaves me prone to fainting. So I need to eat almost continuously to keep up my blood sugar. At least, that's what it seems like. I'm a little muddy about the specifics. At any rate, I'm never without a red cylinder of McVitie's in tow.

At the time, the codeine for my elbow was making me feel especially woozy. I'd stand in the tube, it would lurch forward, and I'd almost find myself in someone's lap. Once, I fell on someone intentionally. A pretty little know-nothing with a Northern accent. I figured it was worth a shot, and women are notorious for falling for men with battle wounds.

'Excuse me,' I said, as I righted myself. 'I didn't mean-' I had intentionally fumbled a bit while
getting up, my fingers slipping up her leg. I doubt she noticed in the confusion. I had thought she was wearing nude stockings. But with my nose to her knee, I could see that she was not. Her legs just had this certain luminescence. She did not respond to my apology, and was instead, wearing a face of anger, and perhaps, disgust.

'I'm so sorry,' I said again. 'It's difficult to hold on here with this one arm busted up like this, and holding these biscuits with me other hand, you know? And I can't very well put them down, you see, I'm hypoglycemic which means there's something wrong w-' I stopped and laughed nervously. Perhaps if she thought that I was shy.

But no. All she gave me was a blank stare. Shut up. New strategy.

'I'm Emile.'


She was a tough one, wearing a tight black skirt which covered her until about her lower thigh. She probably thought it was classy, but in truth, it was still a few centimetres too short. And it's things like that that make the difference. She had a white buttoned blouse with breasts that were not big enough to puff out the top and make her look heavy. No, she was a small girl. Her lips were pursed, tense. It made her look ugly
just then. And I wanted to punch her in the face whenever I had to look at her lips screwed shut like that. So, I forced myself to focus on her blue eyes and dark hair.

'Where are you headed?' I made a production of smoothing my shirt. My shirt was light blue, long and loose fit. She couldn't see that despite my tall, lanky body, I am really well built underneath. That is, unless I pulled my shirt taut while sprucing myself up a bit. My fingers smoothed over my chest, as I straightened my shirt. If time slowed, would she notice me more? Was this subtle gesture enough to make her see me? She took a while to respond to my question.

'Job interview.'

I had known it, of course, with her blazer and black skirt. That's a part of my wanting to write- observing people. I don't just make up stories for them, I divine who they are. Rose wouldn't be getting that job, no, no. I knew that already. She couldn't get it unless the supervisor was feeling the need for a pretty set of legs. That was all this girl was.

'Good luck with that, eh?'

She grimaced. I knew then that she already had the interview. She was actually going home. She knew it had gone poorly.

'How did you do that, anyway?' She pointed at my elbow.

'Oh, that?' I was quiet for a moment, looking at her.

'Rock climbing. In Morocco.' I finally answered.

'Oh, really? You went to Morocco?' She was genuinely interested. Her eyebrows arched and her lips unpursed a little so that it didn't look so much like an arsehole.

'Yes, had to cut the pleasure trip a bit short, I'm afraid. Don't trust those African doctors to keep an eye on my setting bones.'

She laughed. I knew I'd make her laugh.

'What's it like there, what were you doing?' Her voice had made itself higher as she started acting more feminine for me. Her fingers went to her hair. She twirled her index finger in a brown hank like she was mixing coffee.

I heard the name of my stop called out. But I figured, I have a chance with this one.

'I was in Tangiers. Just for fun, with me mate. His name's Brian.'


'Yes, it's beautiful there. Cliffs by the ocean, tropical flowers, and great hummus.'


Yes. I could spin her stories of lambs trekking like centipedes through Arabian nights. She'd eat it like a Moroccan kabob.

'And tea. Lots of mint tea.' Musty, minty odours traveling through old stone. I could give her this. She wanted to get out of her dreary life so badly. I could see that now. She wanted a taste of my cock just to see if she could suck out any Arabian sand. A little oriental mystery for her pathetic life.

'It's very rude of me to be sitting here while there's an invalid, isn't it?' She smiled at me. It seemed genuine. It made her look even more beautiful, when her lips unraveled from their bunched up intestinal form to actual lips.

'It's all right.' And it was. The swaying of the tube was complementary to the swaying of the codeine in my mind. My shoes planted me firmly to the floor.

'Do you like Morocco?'

'Not as much as I like Japan. Mediterranean cultures are good enough, I suppose, but I prefer a culture that feels the need to develop square watermelons.' Rose gave me a blank look, which bothered me because her lips returned to their original pursed position when she wasn't actively smiling.

'I mean,' I said, to clarify, 'That they developed these watermelons that are square so that they are more space efficient. They cost about fifty-five quid each!'

'Fifty-five!' She murmured it hungrily.

Had I been to Morocco? No. But an old mate of mine had. He told me about it. How they stuffed silver pots full with fresh mint, and then poured in boiling water. After, they lifted the pot into the air, and poured out a weak stream of mint tea into a miniature glass. They would pour the contents of the glass back into the pot, and this was the way the Arabs steeped their tea. Pouring and pouring from a great height, a golden tea
slipping out of a silvery spout. The tea was sweetened liberally with entire cubes of crystalline sugar. Really. It's small facts like that which enable people to believe that I have actually been to an Arabic country.

'Oh,' Rose said suddenly. She said it over the announcement of the next stop. 'I'm getting off at the next station. Here. Shall I write my number for you? Perhaps I could meet you tonight. Grab a drink or something. You could tell me about Morocco and all your travels.' She smiled at that. She thought she could play me right and wind up with a rich husband, and maybe even get to travel the world.

'Certainly. I don't think I'm doing anything tonight.' I reached in my pocket, and handed her a crumpled piece of paper- the receipt for my last food purchase. She had excavated from her purse a fine yellow pencil. With it, she wrote her number, and her name, Rose, with a flourish. She really did find herself that important. There was something endearing to her simplicity, to her skirt that was tragically just that much too
short. She hopped off the tube as the voice from the announcement system echoed, 'Whitechapel.' And I'm sure she did it in a way that was to assure me that she was adorable, attractive, and spry.

I decided to sit down. I sat where Rose had been, the cushion still warm. Next to her had been sitting an elderly woman with a papery face and hair like yarn. I felt woozy, and my arm was hurting me. I didn't know where I was going, or what was happening. I just knew I was going west. I turned to face the woman sitting next to me. My trousers made a vulgar noise against the vinyl chair of the train. My lids felt heavy.

'Where are you going today?' I asked the woman.

'I'm going to Kew.' She said it primly, happily. I lurched towards her accidentally as the train sped off towards the west. I pulled myself up, and wondered why I was feeling so dizzy all of a sudden. The old woman did not seem affronted. She hardly seemed to have noticed that my nose was nearly against her glasses.

'I'm going to Kew. My husband and I used to go there. Sometimes we'd have a

I nodded. My skull seemed too heavy for my neck. Perhaps I just needed a McVitie's.

'I would bring sandwiches. He loved watercress sandwiches with lots of butter.
He's dead now.'

'Butter is hard on the arteries.' I wasn't sure if I had said that aloud or not. I hoped not. It seemed rather offensive. But once more the old lady did not seem to mind. So perhaps I hadn't said a word.

'I used to like the water lilies. I love the lilies.' Her eyes started to water, and I did not know if she was crying, or if this was some manner of elderly woman affliction. She dabbed at her eyes with a piece of cloth she had been clenching in her hands. Her fingernails were clawlike, and her hand itself webbed with blueish veins. I started to feel mildly ill.

'I'm going to Kew Gardens. This is the District Line, and it goes to Richmond. But first it goes to Kew Gardens.' Her voice had a strange conviction to it that I could not understand. I looked up at the tube map. The green line snaked west and did, indeed, find its end in Richmond, but first, was Kew Gardens. I had never gone there, but I had heard stories of the flower that only opened once a century there. My ticket did not cover
as many zones as needed for a ride to Kew, but I figured, no one ever checked. And if they did, I'd feign confusion. After all, I was an invalid. The green line gave way to darkness as my eyes closed. I tried to keep them open, and I managed to, a few times. The line came in and out of existence, back and forth, real and not. It came to my vision slower and slower, until finally, it stopped.

'I'm going to Kew Gardens.' Perhaps she had said it again, but perhaps not.

I awoke, serendipitously, to the last announcement of Kew Gardens. By that point, the train had been running over open fields, and was no longer confined to the bowels of London. The station was just a wooden platform. The woman who had been sitting next to me was gone already. I pulled myself out of my seat. My joints were aching from sleep. Perhaps I had been sitting in a strange position. I hopped off the train, minding the gap, as they say. A small blackish crevice, but I made it to the wood without incident. It was fairly windy, although, that is always to my liking. My hair looks better a little unkempt. Tousled, a little greasy so that the hair fell in stylish, mussed, shining clumps. I had on a black overcoat that fell nicely over my blue shirt.
The overcoat had a belt that I never used, and it hung like two fashionable tails swishing behind me. I felt tall. When I looked down and saw insects scurrying about in the damp wood, into the cracks of the platform, I realised just how tall I really was. I stepped away from the train and went to the ticket counter to ask where the gardens are.

I walked through the town of Kew. The buildings were mostly brick and sad. I stopped at a sandwich shop that was next to a tall maroon building that was being eaten by ivy. I bought a cheese sandwich. A crusty baguette with some brie and butter. They wrapped it in butcher paper. It was a little more expensive than I figured it should be. Kew is a small town. But, I suppose, the Royal Botanical Gardens are just around the
bend, and that is a tourist attraction. I walked outside and bit into the bread. It was still warm, and the brie gooey. A sense of pleasantness descended on me as I stood outside the cafe. Iron tables painted green and a few chairs were scattered outside. The restaurant was flanked not only by the dark old house, but also by a little florist's shop. Little clay pots filled with a lively orangey-red flower lined the sidewalk. It would be
nice to live here, in one of those older apartment buildings, in this small gardeny town, with its brie. And it was only a short ride from London, really.

I had been noticing a dull ache in my elbow, and it was growing more persistent. I found it obnoxious, this pain that had managed to worm its way inside my flesh, down deep into my bone. I fished in my overcoat pocket, my hand sliding over the plastic cylinder of pills. I flipped the top, popped one or two in my mouth, and chewed. I couldn't stand the bitter taste, but after a large bite of my sandwich, I could barely taste
the medicine.

Walking to the entrance of Kew Gardens, I noticed that the early afternoon was pleasant, and the sun hardly harsh. I paid my 6 pound 50, and noticed with some amusement that entrance to the gardens was free to the blind. It was nice of them to realise that it was rather pointless for those who could not see their famed century flower to have to pay to be in its presence. I strolled through the main entrance, and was greeted
by a great expanse of green. I wasn't sure which way to go, so I headed in a westerly direction. The grass seemed abnormally soft, and it seemed to spring under my feet. It was as if I were walking on one immense cloud of verdure. The scent of the air inside seemed green, like the sent of fresh hay.

To the north, there seemed to be a body of water around which everyone was sitting. It seemed to be the focal point of the garden. People were feeding the waterfowl, sitting on stone benches, and sunning themselves. I could see them all from a distance and felt sorry for them. I understood their need to commune with nature so as to forget their menial lives. Feeding the birds and watching them float serenely on water allowed
them to fulfill their need of having someone take care of them. How they obviously wished to be the geese fed fat on bread crumbs. It was understandable, but very dismal. I did not want any part of this projection of one's self onto a cantankerous long-necked bird. Geese tend to honk obnoxiously. So, I veered south.

The air seemed to be pushing against me, and I was walking slower than I normally would. I felt energetic, and it was as if the atmosphere had turned into a clear molasses. I saw a small brown bird fly over my head. He too seemed to fly slowly, his wings stroking with difficulty through the thick wind. I squinted my eyes, trying to get a better look at the bird. I was certain that it was moving slower than it ought to. I was
certain it was moving like I was. I began to have suspicions that time was perhaps slowing. How was I doing this? But when I blinked, the bird was gone. I could not be sure of what was happening. Yet, suddenly, before me, was a greenhouse.

It was made of sheets of glass. I was reminded of when my mother used to read me stories, and I was fascinated by how the witch in Hansel and Gretel made windows out of spun sugar. Glass seemed so fragile, and often I wanted to lick it, to taste the sugar. I know it is a strange thought, but I can't seem to help myself. The way in which this small building of glass seemed to erupt out of the ground in the middle of nowhere
heightened my confusion. Looking around, one could see nothing much but trees with scraggly bark, and shaded grass. I decided to walk inside.

The air was moist and heavy, and I was looking out to a pond. On it, spread like large, green platters, were enormous water lilies. They sat like giant, thick cakes, and it seemed that the water would have to be horribly thick to hoist up these monsters. I immediately decided to take off my coat and sling it over my good arm, for it was very hot in the greenhouse.

'-Steaming up my glasses.' It was an American's voice. A female's. I looked up. Not too far from where I was standing was a girl. She had dark hair, a pale complexion, and long legs that she flaunted shamelessly as she stood in a short, black satin skirt. She pulled off her sunglasses and rubbed them against her shirt. Next to her, standing very closely, was another girl. They must be close friends, I conjectured.

'It's like a sauna in here,' her friend agreed. Her hair was reddish-brown, and her nose was long and angular for her chinless face. She was much more voluptuous than her friend. This is not a polite way of saying that she was overweight. I definitely mean to say that this girl was softer, curvier.

The first girl's voice softened after her annoyance with her glasses.

'I do like it here, though.'

'Here you mean Kew?'

'Yeah, but. I also mean just here. England. I dig it.'

'England's pretty cool. I like it here a lot more than France. Things seem a lot more...' The girl with the red hair fished for a word, 'Sublime.'

'Paris was nice and all, and I liked the cafes. But yeah-'

'Notre Dame sure isn't Canterbury Cathedral.' This girl, the shorter red-head, obviously had a soft place in her heart for Canterbury. Perhaps that should be my next visit, I thought to myself. I had not been there, and I would not mind seeing it. Maybe then I would know what this girl was talking about. They surely had not heard me come in. I had entered softly and slowly. Creeping through the molasses, barely able to be heard.

'I can't explain why, either. But I know what you mean. Sure, like, they were both filled with tourists, but... I don't know. There was something more personable about Canterbury.' She was playing with her glasses: putting them on, taking them off, rubbing them on her shirt, and wiping off extra moisture.

'There's something special about these gardens too. I love the trees, the air... I want to roll in the grass and feed the geese... I'll have a well-manicured garden one day. You'll see.'

'We should stop by a place to eat before we head back to London...' Her hair was almost black, it was so brown. Although her voice was deep for a girl's, it still had this nasal quality that American voices have.

'Remember that restaurant right next to Canterbury Cathedral? It seemed so brown and dark. The roof was so high. I had Earl Grey tea and a scone, because that's what you're supposed to have. With lots of that ... What do they call it? Clotted cream. ... You know, I haven't taken a shit since we've gotten to Europe. I hate the public bathrooms here.'

'I know you hate them.' The dark-haired girl had been growing quiet and distant as her friend rambled. She was trying to hold on to something that was already fading into memory. Finally, she said abruptly, 'I can't believe we were in Canterbury just a few days ago. Sometimes I wonder where time goes. Soon, we'll be home. I fucking hate that. I've been having such a good time with you.' One day, this girl would want to come back to England with the first man she loved. She was romanticising things. She couldn't help it. I thought that if I could just reach out, I could touch her loneliness. It would be sticky and when I would spread my fingers, it would string out in gooey strands.

I enjoyed watching these two girls talk. It was nice to see girls act genuine. I suspect they are a different breed when men are not in the room. Here were two girls just talking. They were not laughing in high pitches to grab my attention, they were not twirling their hair, and they were not bending over to show me either their cleavage or the curves of their bum. Not that I mind those things. But it was nice to see a girl in a short skirt wearing it just for herself. There was an innocence to it, something delicious, especially when she leaned over the railing to get a better look at the lilies, and she would arch her feet onto the tips of her toes, and her skirt would ride up, and there were her curves. It was not self-conscious, it was natural and pure, soft woman. Rose, in comparison, seemed disgusting and vulgar with her skirt to impress and her laughter that
hurt my ears. I knew what the dark haired girl was thinking. She was thinking about how she would surely take the love of her life to Canterbury and Kew. The red-head, she was thinking about something else. She didn't seem so vulnerable. She was wearing a blue dress with a print that dotted itself in small white flowers.

The red-head sighed, turned her head away to the side so I could not see her face. 'I know.' She stopped for a second before continuing, 'I want to see the geese.' She wanted, then, to be cared for. To be free. There was something troubling her, I could tell. Something that drew her to birds gliding carelessly on glassy water. Beads of sweat were beginning to form on my brow. The room was hot and the air murky.

The brunette took her friend's hand. The red-head abruptly laughed. 'I can't believe you took all that heroin with you on the plane. In your fucking shoe.' Her violent turns in her conversation still took me aback.

'You expected me to just stop for this trip? I can't stop. Not all of a sudden.' The brunette's jaw suddenly seemed to be very prominent due to her slender heroin build. I thought, if I squinted, I could see dark rings under her eyes when her sunglasses were off.

'I love you.' The red-head's voice was suddenly thin in the oppressive atmosphere of the water-lily room. 'But if you can't stop slowly, and you can't stop suddenly, how will you ever stop?'

'I didn't see you minding too much when you asked me for a twenty.' The dark-haired girl seemed agitated.

'That's different.'

'No, it's not,' snapped the brunette.

I started to feel woozy. My eyes centred on the middle of a large, encompassing green lily as the two talked.

'You have your own problems anyway,' it was the deep voice of the brunette. 'You think your pills are any different? This shit's all the same. It's all about how much you hate yourself and you hate your life. My hate's not any goddam different than your hate, but you like to pretend it is. You and your pills and your fucking boyfriend.' She spat the word 'boyfriend' out with a contempt I found surprising.

'How typical,' the red-head's lilting voice turned downwards in anger, 'Junkies always are predictable. Just turn it around and make it my problem.'

The brunette did not pay her friend any mind. 'Sure, I used to be jealous of your boyfriend. I mean, yeah. So what? No one loves me. But you know what? No one loves you either. You stay with him because you're desperate. Because you know no one loves you. You think that if he gave fuck one about you he'd be saying the shit he says about you?' It seemed very fitting that the dark girl in the satin skirt would ruin a moment they had previously found so happy. She really did not have to snap at her friend, who was only making an amusing observation. The brunette was obviously so melancholic that it had to seep into everything. The sticky heat was oppressive, and the green leaves whose edges dipped into the water seemed to add to the sadness.

'I don't want to fight. We worked all last summer to save money for this fucking trip. I don't want to fucking fight.' Although I was not looking at her, I knew by her quieted voice that she had found secret wisdom in the brunette's angry speech.

The red-head continued to speak. 'We're both a bunch of lost girls. And that's why I do love you. So there, someone does love you.' The waxy green of the water lily took up my vision, but I could see her face as she said that. Her short red hair, parted in the middle, framing her strange, yet attractive, chinless face. I envisioned her bold nose, and her soft, thick lips, turned down and sad. The brunette was still silent, so the red-head continued.

'I still can't believe what happened in Paris. Only you... Only you would have understood. We're so sick.'

By this point, I knew that the brunette had picked her head up, and faced the red-head.


'What kind of sick girls are we? A guy fingers us on the fucking Metro- and all we can think about are excuses for him. I know all I was thinking about was, "Oh, I must be too close to him," or, "Oh, he obviously has hand tremors." ... "It's the swaying of the bus..." Everything but the fucking obvious truth was going through my head. And you know what I'm thinking now? I'm thinking, "Oh, maybe my skirt was too short."' The
red-head let her voice crack and fall, defeated.

'I thought the same thing. It wasn't until you said something that I knew it had to be him... Because he was touching both of us. Both of us couldn't be an accident.' The brunette's voice was quiet and disgusted. 'It says a lot, doesn't it? We're so ready and willing to take the blame for things. You should leave your boyfriend. You really should. You're not lazy. You're not ugly.'

The sound of one of them crying made me lift my head. Which one was it? The red-head. She reached into her purse to take out what I thought would be a compact mirror. Instead, she pulled out a little blue enamel pillbox. Somehow, everything was in focus. I knew there was a butterfly decorating the box. She flipped the brass lid and pulled out a powder blue round pill. She offered one to the brunette. With a delicate touch and slender fingers, the brunette plucked a pill from its nest, and swallowed it.

I could imagine the man who touched these girls. He was elderly, gaunt, and inconspicuous. He was skilled at preying on girls. He was a liar. Of course, we are all liars. I lie. But not like that. I knew I could make the brunette love me. I knew she had that romantic heart that wanted to be touched. I knew that I could do it. I could make her happy for a day. I knew the right words. I am a different sort of man.

The two girls, spent from their conversation, gazed into the murky pool. There was a noise, a small dripping noise, that became audible in their silence. I hadn't noticed it before, but it was there, faint. It seemed to grow slower, with each drop, as the water source dried up.

The red-head turned to the brunette and gave her a hug, inadvertently wiping tears onto her shirt. They seemed so fragile, these two small girls, embracing in a house of glass.

'I'm going to go look at the geese. Maybe there are some swans there. It's hot in here anyway.' Her hair, although only a brownish red in the shadiness of the greenhouse (The panes of glass seemed coated in grime. Dirty and old) would surely turn brilliant copper in the sun.

'I'm just going to lie down outside then. When you're done, just come get me.' The two pulled apart from their hug and languidly moved along the walkway. They passed me; and, for the first time, they noticed me. The brunette locked eyes with me. She seemed wary and startled to see a man standing there. She wondered immediately
how much of the conversation I must have heard. She tugged self-consciously at her skirt, patting it down, and making certain that it had not ridden up. The red-head ignored my gaze and kept her eyes on the ground, dragging herself out and into the fresh air.

I waited a few minutes, staring more at the lilies, listening to the distant watery dripping noise become slower and slower, fainter and fainter. Then, I walked out, passing whom I believe to be the woman on the tube. She dabbed at her leaking, gelatin-like eyes. I did not remember her walking in. I was startled as I passed her. I moved my attention to the ground, and I do not know if she acknowledged me or not.

I headed westerly again. I had not gone but perhaps twenty yards when I spotted the brunette. She was lounging beneath a tree. She had no book to occupy her time, she just was lying there. She was no doubt reminiscing about younger times and days that had long passed. Perhaps she was remembering when she had etched her name in wet cement, years ago. She was wondering, maybe, if her name was still there. She was leaning against a tree, her legs outstretched in front of her, ankles crossed. Her eyes were closed, but she was not asleep. Every once in a while, she opened her eyes to watch the sea of grass ripple in the breeze, or to twine her fingers into the grass before she uprooted the small plants. I could see the rise and fall of her breasts as she breathed. I felt like her face had planted itself firmly in my memory. Her thin face was beautiful, her American accent touching with its coarse twang.

The tree she was resting against was large and gnarled. It didn't seem like it would be all that comfortable, and yet, there she sat. I darted as quickly as I could behind another tree so that I might watch her. I slipped clumsily on a rock, and made a rustling noise. She did not seem to notice. I thought of what I could say to her. How I could appeal to her. I imagined walking up to her, talking to her about the gardens, cathedrals, love and the England that had seemed to entrance her. I could dazzle her, talk to her about the dripping, dreary moors. She would come home with me, entranced. I'd give her happiness for an evening. I could and I knew it.

I stood behind that tree, soaking her in, breathing her breath. I knew what I could do to get her, as I know how to get almost anyone. It's part of my job, knowing how people work, and writing them down. But there was something about her melancholy, something that I didn't totally understand. This hatred in these young girls was astonishing. But I was impressed by how erotic a girl could be when she was alone, when she was not trying to impress a man.

Perhaps, I figured, it would be best just to watch her. When she wasn't aware that there was a man near. Her breathing was slowing, perhaps brought on by the pill she had ingested. Her legs, which were twined about each other, ankle above ankle, eased slowly apart. I imagined that it was my hand gently pushing them apart. I wished the moment would last an eternity. I was perfectly content, watching her breasts heave upward with every intake of breath. For that moment, she was mine, even if she did not know it. This sad junkie girl who hid skag in her shoe. I crouched down quietly, and listened to the wind. This girl would bring her first love to England. But she wouldn't love herself enough to hold on to him. This I could prophecy. When she would learn to love herself and another correctly, I couldn't tell. But she would be here again with a love destined to be lost. I wanted to tell her this. I wanted to own her, too. The two conflicting thoughts swayed in my head, swirling slowly, dancing together. So, I just crouched, watching. Listening. Observing her breathing become slower and slower until her breasts hardly seem to move at all.

I didn't know how much time had lapsed when her friend returned. Her hair was disheveled from the wind, and I had been right. It glowed a bright copper until she stepped into the shade.

'Did you want to go?' The red-head's words sliced like a knife through the still of the day. The brunette's chest rose as she was startled and took a sharp intake of air. Her breathing came a little rapidly now. The red-head's voice seemed loud in the air.

'I guess.' The dark haired girl's voice was husky from quiet daydreaming. I wondered if I should have warned her about the next time she would go to Kew. I wondered if I should have talked to her. Now all I had was Rose for tonight when it was this girl who somehow captured my attention. I wished that I could go back, reverse
time, and give me those few precious minutes before the red-head would arrive. But it was too late. I missed her forever despite the fact that fate had dropped her almost directly onto my lap.

The brunette staggered to her feet and murmured, 'Head rush...' The coppery haired girl grabbed her arm and steadied her friend.

'Let's go get a sandwich or something... I'll treat, okay?' The red-head smiled. The two walked off and I was left squatting in the grass behind a tree.

When I pulled myself up, my joints cracked and my elbow burned. I would take another pill in a moment, but at the time, I was too dizzy to bother reaching for my bottle in my coat pocket. I made my way to the exit, stumbling about and pushing myself through the thick air. I was quite woozy, and was looking forward to sitting down on the train. I was trying desperately to retrace my steps to find the train station. With shaky knees and a glad heart, I found the maroon building that had charmed me, and of course, the little cafe with red flowers nearby.

To my amusement, when I peered inside, the two girls were there, sharing one of the large baguette sandwiches. I fancied that it was a brie and butter sandwich. I turned away from the restaurant and walked to the train station. My hand made its way into my pocket, and I felt the receipt on which was scrawled Rose's telephone number. At least tonight I could give her a ring. I'd tell her tales of Morocco, and of my journeys to America where beautiful sad girls live without hope and surround themselves with dreams. Rose, with her pathetic puckered arse lips, would definitely be mine tonight. Although, I knew I'd imagine kissing the heart-shaped lips of the melancholy brunette.


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