Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Sibhe rarely looked up whilst drinking her coffee, felt it caused too much confusion, for her and for the staff. Mostly her mind focussed on trivial things - the day to day - but when she sat in a café, reading a book, she was able to enter a larger world.

Years before she had sworn she wouldn't regret anything, but something niggled. It wasn't the sex she missed with Rob, although everyone gets lonely from time to time, they were fond memories. She missed his eyes, the way he looked at her. And the fling with that married boss of hers, she could barely remember his name, on purpose, it was ill-fitting and trivialised the adventure and danger, probably the most exciting of her life.

And there was that invitation she had years ago, when her friend had said, 'why not just come away with me, I'm going anyway, what have you to lose?'. The ties had seemed real though, what were they again - was it her job or the cat?

Today she was feeling honest, she wasn't sure Rob had ever looked at her that way. A combination of books, romantic films, advertisements for a wide array of products, from burgers to international travel, had probably evoked a false memory.

Each time, when she sat in a café, like now, it seemed as though the idea had been the best part. Sitting head down, peering into the book, was fretful. Always, maybe to overcome this, she tried to vary her pattern, didn't want to be known, for being a woman, sitting alone routinely, head stuck in a book. She didn't want to have to imagine what the staff would think.

Maybe she regretted it all, she often felt a sense of loss, for that young woman she had been. Was she ever that young woman though, thinking back on it - the years seemed to blur into one quick continuum, insignificant really. It was as though she had always been waiting, and here she was, at a destination she had never imagined.

She could plan a trip to visit her friend now, but it would never be the same, what with all the children and noise. There would be no space for the coffees and endless conversations. And she never wanted to really meet any of the men again, even either of the sincere ones, who apparently loved her.

It wasn't as though she didn't try to live in the present. Last summer she had visited the Amalfi Coast alone, craving the feeling of independence and fulfilment, but it had been mostly awkward, and barely a man had looked her direction.

Beforehand, as she was pre-playing the worst case scenario, she had imagined they would look at her with pity, but the reality had been far more benign and disinterested.

A genuine regret may have been that, while she had her share, there had been too little sex, and she hadn't enjoyed it as much as she might have. Some more connections would have given her more to look back on now with a fond eye. Laughably, at the time, she had imagined herself loose, on the verge of having a reputation, marking herself out of being desirable. If there was advice she could give, had she a niece, it would be to live it loudly, to follow each adventure.

Regret wasn't her thing though, and besides, there was no niece to confide in. So, as her coffee cooled she sat, head in the book, in a new café, plotting the next adventure, which might, after all provide her with dreams to savour for the rest of the year.

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