Sunlight enters the room. The folds in the net curtains cast shadows like bars across the armchair that sits beneath the window. The reading chair that gets the light. The comfy chair that holds a body in its embrace.

A cloud moves over the sun. The room dulls, feels somber. Pigeons coo from their perch on the gutter, spattering the window ledge and pavement from time to time.

The knot in her stomach comes and goes like the sun. A tightness in her ribcage. Electricity in her elbows. Chemicals changing pathways in her brain. It has to get worse to get better, but why? Why can’t it just get better?

The sky has changed from blue to white. Cloud cover, no chinks in its arrangement. There is a tension in her muscles, as though she is waiting for something bad to happen. The clock she’s had since Preston ticks on, punctuating the quiet in the room.

She misses company, but she doesn’t want to talk. She craves the comfort of strangers.

Clouds shift again. The sun returns, she switches seats, basking in the warm light like a cat. She enters the labyrinth of dreams within the pages of a book.


The Loneliness of the Long Distance Sales Rep

Tony fiddled with the knot on his tie. Cheap acrylic, like his suit, it didn’t add any veneer to his appearance.

Tony sat in the passenger seat of his company car. Toyota Auris. Excellent mileage. A comfortable ride up and down the motorway, servicing the clientele. In the footwell, the detritus of his service station lunch. Sandwich wrapper, crisp packet, doughnut crumbs and a screwed up serviette. His feet, shod in a pair of £25 loafers, scuffled against the rubbish for something to do.

He thought about Lynne. He loosened the knot on his tie, unfastened it completely, pulling the tie from his collar. He sat and wrapped it around his fingers, thinking about Lynne and the hard disappointment in her eyes.

They’d met at a company do. She was in logistics. He was young enough to still believe he could make area manager one day. She was keen on his ambition. Twenty five years later, he was still on the road and Lynne was disappointed.

The world looked slightly different through the passenger side of the windscreen. He thought about quitting, about other possibilities. He wasn’t fifty yet.

Tony wound down the window and dropped his tie to the ground.


In response to a photograph seen on Twitter.