Candyfloss and Pickles – Chapter Three: Incline
Someone stole the night.
Only a few seconds passed, it seemed, between Claire’s eyes closing then forcing themselves open to meet the unwelcome light breaking into the box room from the landing. Her eyelashes felt bound together as her eyelids struggled to wrench themselves apart, so that she blinked in stinging, watery vision.
This wasn’t her only discomfort; she now felt awkward in Vaughan’s house and while her body ached to get back to sleep, she just wanted to get out.
Hearing Vaughan preparing for work downstairs, she forced her limbs to get her up and into the other bedroom to pull on her dressing gown before hurrying downstairs.
With even less food than the previous night, Vaughan was again eating toast and drinking tea, this time for breakfast.
“Morning,” sang Claire as she swept into the kitchen.
“Had to hurry: I’m late,” replied Vaughan. “I made you some tea there. Did you sleep all right?”
It felt too comfortable for comfort.
“Yes, thank you,” she managed.
He pulled open a drawer and hauled out a set of keys, letting them settle on the worktop with the gentlest of jangles.
“Here’s your old keys. Push them through the letterbox when you let yourself out or . . . you could always keep them.”
Looking away, he grabbed a battered briefcase from the floor and started making his way to the front door.
“Good luck, Claire.”
“Thank you, Vaughan.”
Both relieved to have met once again and quickly parted, Claire sipped the welcome mug of tea, while Vaughan strode out along Abdication Avenue and up the hill.
Today would be all uphill for Vaughan and for Claire, for her parents, for Chester Chumpley and many others in Fryeston, but none of this mattered to the seagulls.
© Robert Zarywacz 2008-2009