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Navy nothingness streamed across the sky canvas, a shade that belted out ‘nightfall, and the shade itself is freezing to death’. Glacial wintertime was beaming strong; Christmassy cold layering pastel cars in still frost. Flickers chimed from soon-to-close tea houses, smiling light sadly strangled as people hibernate away. Shutting out November blank. Hugging down. Brilliant snug. Every one of these sensations grazed Robbie as he left the neon chippy – but not all sunk in, even if a semblance of most lodged where his thoughts could regurgitate them early next morning on a dream-clear bus.

Quickly he strode homeward mindful of the greasy package to be devoured. And then flung a tired head backwards a third through the fried potatoes, noticing an old Panini sticker rugged on the ceiling. “Arsenal!” jumped out his mouth simultaneously. But the man, not yet out of his daywear, forgot his bearings in the excitement. He shook over on an overflow of water from his ridiculous taps then badly grazed his leg on an edge of protruding table. Yelps ricocheted while a gravy-full tub sailed towards the ground.


The red button had been pressed so humming clouded the room’s natural quietness. Someone or other was telling anyone who could be bothered to listen how to look after a poorly goat. Really really low sound, almost un-hearable. A cat was scrapping with an enemy close to the back set of windows – growling then pouncing. Robbie was nearly asleep, scrunching up like a schoolchild in assembly, half-reading a historical piece on Bowie’s rare albums. When he was almost gone Andrea clanged through the door, and then clanged on the small-couch lamp. “Just for you,” she quilted, landing a mini bear on the prostrate man’s lap. “Being a silly boy again. Hope it’ll bring you luck.” Robbie stared and moaned. He stroked the toy as though it were a real pet. The bear made no special face. Tomorrow he would add the toy to his church crucifix and rainbow eraser from the corner shop.

A little pang daggered his insides – gratitude, solace, love? Bits of the TV’s garish patchwork kept on catching the pure black strips of window between the blinds. Robbie felt lazy but not enough to snap himself from this rough stupor. Harsh stubble was already sprouting out from his cheeks, milk residue dribbled across his chin. Although he couldn’t see, Andrea watched him sprawled there while he clicked from digital section to section. She watched him against her will and felt very sad. She loved him but felt very sad.

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