English of the English

I was copying up a couple of days ago a story that had been sparked by the recollection of a statement I think was attributed to Raymond Carver – or was it Chandler? It was that if ever you were stuck for the beginning of a story, you should have a man holding a gun come through a door. Having copied it up, I wondered, if variations on that theme (as the story in fact was) might form the basis of a collection….It wouldn’t have to be a man, nor a gun, and not necessarily a door……but it would have be someone, or something, with something, and making an entrance.

Here’s the story I was copying up…a little reflective, flash fiction…..

But what about the rest of the collection……….?

Through Carver’s Door

An attractive looking middle-aged woman came through the door of the cafe holding a shopping bag.

She seemed familiar but Carver could not place her. She looked from side to side before settling her bag on one the chairs at the next table, and seating herself beside it. She rummaged in the bag and brought out a bulging leather purse. Then she turned her attention to the menu.

Carver watched her covertly. A waitress came over and took her order, and it was after that when she looked for the first time, at Carver. He saw recognition reconstruct her face. She was trying to place him. He turned towards her, expecting her to speak, but not sure yet if he wanted to be recognised. It was as if her face had not resolved itself into focus.

You’re Carver, she said, Carver Johns. He could see that she wasn’t quite sure, but he knew now who she was. Her voice had deepened and softened. Yes, he could remember her.

Would that be a good thing, he asked? As if he could deny it now. She relaxed into a smile, sensing his recognition.

It wouldn’t be all bad.

That’s something, he said, and smiled.

Was it too late for apologies? They would need explanations, limitations, negotiated boundaries, reciprocation.

It’s been a long time, he said, and she nodded. It would need to be, he thought. An expression, hard to interpret, unsettling him, crossed her face.

Do you still like to..? The memories flooded back and he felt his cheeks burn.

Yes, he said, forcing himself not to look away. But I haven’t, not in a long time. It was always such a disappointment.

Not always, I hope.

After you.

Then her coffee and scone arrived and he glanced at his watch and saw that he was out of time. He rose and muttered an excuse that he hoped she would not misinterpret, and went over to the counter and paid his bill and smiled across at her as he crossed the threshold. On the table, next to the empty cup and the plate, and the crushed paper napkin that was slowly opening like a pale flower, where he had left it, she saw his card. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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