In the afternoon

I have picked a spot right in the corner, under a bright red umbrella shielding a white garden table and coffee brown, wicker chairs. I ask for a glass of orange juice and open my notebook; its empty lines stare up the insides of the Coco-Cola branded umbrella.

I search for my pen, as always it is lost in the abyss of my bottomless bag. It used to annoy me endlessly when my Mum lost her hand in her purse, looking for the keys, buried under all the other trinkets she never needed but always carried. I swore I’d never do that and yet here I am, desperately trying to retrieve my elbow, hopefully with a pen attached at the other end. After a long, embarrassing struggle I have my pen. I hang my bag onto the chair and get to work.

Today I seek inspiration. For years I’ve wanted to do this: sit at a café, pull out my notebook and write. I take a sip of juice. I juggle my pen. I doodle. Around me the day grows. There’s a flower market on the other side of the square; a riot of colours and smells. I should start my own little garden on the terrace. I’ve never grown one before so I’m sure I’ll lose more than I’ll grow. But still it’ll be a nice thing to try out. There’s a boy buying a long stemmed rose. He looks worried and pleased at the same time. I wonder what he’s done. Will one flower be penance enough?

I ask for another glass of orange juice and review my writing. I have a few lines but nothing to build on. All it takes is a line, or an image, though. I keep looking. The square is lined with boutiques (selling mostly shoes and clothes – I can always make time for those), two bookstores (life savers), two ice-cream parlours and six pizza places. A few peanut vendors mill around as well. Nothing there; at least not right now. There’s a couple sitting next to me, old and wrinkled. They both wear stuffy summer jackets and thick soled shoes. He sips on his beer, smokes and looks around. She has a glass of wine sitting beside her half smoked cigarette; her eyes are buried in book. They don’t exchange a single word, but occasionally they glance at each other and exchange the most endearing smiles. A wisp of an idea? Another orange juice, at the end of which I’ll really need to pee, but I’m not worried, I know I’ll find a story here, somewhere.

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