Lunch At Luigi's

At home she is meticulous. She retreats into the alignment of cutlery. The squaring of corners. Clean follows dirty as day follows night. Whatever they do in the bedroom thrums to a fast-forward image of fresh sheets. At work there are crumb armies in her keyboard. Collaged notes, tissue tails, and sweet wrappers. Mugs with strange countries tea-stained inside. Liquorice twists of connectors and cables. When her husband of 15 years says, 'I hope you behaved today', he means, 'Did you stay in your shell? Did you make yourself microscopic?' And she says, 'Yes.' Because this is mostly true. But lately, she’s been counting backwards from death. Being the first voice in the room at meetings. And today, Karen, from the desk opposite, casually said, "You coming, then?" Lunch at Luigi’s. Spectacular and plain. When he asks, she crinkles the café’s printed napkin, messy and safe in her pocket.
Linda Grierson-Irish