In a layby

September 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is a moment.

You see him from your car as you drive past, a couple of hours yet before the evening begins to wane – the sun slipping down the sky to snag itself on hawthorn hedgerows, waiting there, tethered, for the next day to arrive.

A tall man in a dark suit. Pale shirt, collar open, no tie. Dark hair and perhaps a hint of five o’clock shadow – you didn’t see. He’s on the phone, pacing towards the end of the layby, away from some big anonymous car, a Mercedes or BMW most likely. The car door’s still slightly ajar – perhaps he pulled over in a hurry.

Just a man, on the phone, in a layby, against the bright humming evening and nature bustling round.

And he is talking to her and saying wait a minute, but she’s not listening, instead ploughing on like she does, and he has to wait for the slightest pause to fit his words in. She was always like this and he used to find it endearing that she’d fill time with words to deflect uncertainty. Now, he thinks that it’s to deflect reality. Really, all he wants is to talk to his daughter, to ask about sports day, to say daddy couldn’t make it because he was in a meeting but that he was thinking of her all the time, but his ex won’t stop pushing words at him, to be ducked and woven around, and he stands there watching the steady stream of cars sliding past this monologue. He begins to move away from the conversation in his ear, toward thoughts about the new coupé his boss has promised him.

And we slide slowly by.


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