Food Tales

Fairy Bread

As the boat left the dock the first bit of sun hit the deck. Exposed feet in rubber shoes became glazed by the rays from above. Responsible parents grabbed fleeing children and splattered them with the thick white paste that they all detested. Inside ears and up their noses their mothers’ fingers ran, leaving no inch of bare skin untouched. The thick engine vibrated from below and sounded like an animal that had been taken prisoner. The children screeched at the baritone cries and wondered if they would be next. Heading out the water cleared from a cloudy green to a deeper blue. The ocean invited them on, coaxing them out to the openness of the sea. Far out and beyond the curves of the bay twisted round and round, playing hide and seek with the captain. Houses sat dotted along the edge and up into the hills. It was a perfect melody of sea and land and the sky took watch over it all.
The rise of the waves became steadier now and the boat lifted and fell with its rhythm; all those on board began to settle. Naked limbs stretched out to every point, an arm to the destination and a leg to the point of departure, and smooth soft skin rubbed up against sun-worn wrinkles. Freckled noses shrivelled with the glare and eyes squinted from the light; it was a bad day to have forgotten one’s glasses.
The crossing began like any other, searching and pointing for the forgotten landmarks. Soon Mrs McKauly’s house would appear with the bright yellow gate, its crazy pergola sitting like a forgotten fairground ride. It was said that she would gather the children next door and throw delicious parties, fairy bread and chocolate cakes as far as the eye could see. The plates and cups could be seen scattered down upon the shore (if one looked close enough). Coloured napkins were left floating in the sea. Next the point of the lighthouse would creep out from behind the rolling hills, its tall white body firm in its position. The red triangular shape of its peak suggested a rather fashionable accessory – a crazy red beret upon a stick of white chalk. Where was the man in the lighthouse today? Was he there as he always was, bound forever to spin the light round and round, destined to solitude for the rest of his years? They say he’s forgotten how to talk after all that time alone, no one to accompany him except the tides of waves and the cycle of the moon. They would yell as the wreckage of the beached steamer poked out from the west, its rusty carcass still a warning to those who lose their way. Don’t go crossing that bay they say, unless you want a fate like theirs.
The cries of gulls came down from above and swooped as the children fed them scraps. Wings and arms flew up and down as bread was caught in their beaks. Down in the depths scaly creatures slithered by and darted in the current from the engine. Chug chug went the motor below; the vessel was well and truly on its way. It wouldn’t be long until their arrival and the real festivities could begin. It was pleasing to know that even after all this time the tradition still remained intact. Even though ages increased and bodies grew, there was something reassuring in the familiar site of the port. It was a place that held meaning to all those on board. A reminder of years passed and generations grown, though not in a saddening way; it was more commemorative than that.
The youngest was the first to spot it: a tall spike sitting up on the hill. He cried for the others to see. There it sat – the old beach house, plain and white and complete. No one could remember who it actually belonged to, the years of tradition leading back generations. But it was theirs for the taking and making of enjoyment, and no one questioned the legality. It’s windows greeted them like two awaiting eyes, the veranda completing the welcoming face of its front. The boat headed its way.
The rope was flung and tied in knots and kept the vessel safe. All cargo came on shore; edible and human. Little legs lost their balance as adjusting became delayed. The firmness of land was a shock to the rolling feel of the waves. Parcels were carried and rugs laid out and the setting up had begun. The elder of the crew brought gas and tools and lit the outdoor grill. Smoke trailed into the sky. Out came the catch of the day: snapper, scallops, flat head. The fish was dipped in egg and flour and placed upon the heat. It sizzled and cooked under the sun. Down below mothers gathered plates and dished out salad to all. Deep red beetroot and crunchy carrot striked colours onto the rug. Homemade bread and tapenade laid plentiful at their feet, and smelly cheese and opened wine made an adult only treat.
Stumps were placed in the ground and captains picked their teams. Bowlers and batters swung and ran building up their growing appetites. The girls showed up the boys with two ‘no-outs’ but it was the uncle that stole the show. Thirteen 6’s and a whole century was enough for man of the match, and he wore his title with pride. Younger ones played by the swing and chanted made-up rhymes, and boys dug deep holes in the sand trying to break through to the other side. If they kept going could they make it to China? Or was that the other hemisphere? Waves lapped up and wet the sand as buckets were filled and dumped.
The afternoon came down slow and low across the lethargic group. Glistening rays dazzled on the water and shadows grew longer on the grass.  The time had come for cakes and fruit and all gathered round to eat. Self-raised sponge and rocky road was passed among the bunch, devoured in a gulp or two. Mango, watermelon, pineapple and cherries accompanied the fresh-baked goods, and the savoury side of life was replaced by something sweet. Bellies stretched out round and satisfied and sipping slowed to a lull. Soon chatting softened to a hum as tranquillity enveloped them all. The saltiness from the sea drifted over them and all felt calm and secure. Moments like these could be achieved, moments that reminded one life was good. It didn’t take much. Yet it was ironic the way one could so easily forget what made one happy.
Soon sugar levels dropped and wine bottles became empty. The sun had escaped behind a cloud and the shade was a cooling reminder of the time. Girls gathered their dolls and boys their trucks, the adults ordered the mess. Boxes were packed and stumps removed while young ones still played by the sea, oblivious to time or need.  It was hard to believe the day had come to an end, time once again running away from them all.
The boat sat waiting for their return, patiently obedient by the dock. It welcomed the company back to its care and sunk comfortably with the weight. Bodies were lifted slowly on board and the cargo was again sea-bound. All felt comfy again in their seats but some longed for the touch of the grass.
As the boat set off eyes turned to the house. It sat there smiling just as before, its two windows gazing back at them. A whole year would pass until they could see it again. But all knew it was worth the wait. The boat set off into the blue again, rising and falling as before. Heads dropped on shoulders as it rocked them to sleep, and adults sighed deeply in their company. Contentment filled them alongside the food and all felt a truest peace. 
Heading out the land gave way to the sea and sky stretched up ahead. The house became smaller until eventually all that was left was a small dot, a distant reminder of all that had passed. The engine hummed and sent them home. All moved in rhythm with the tide.  

Strong and Milky                

             It’s funny how three little words can say so much. A short phrase with a long association. I am reminded of these words everyday because I have certain daily habits that bring to my mind your face and your voice and your hoody that I swear you never took off. They were not big words, but they were enough to make an impression and a lasting one at that. ‘Strong and Milky.’ That was them. Three little insignificant terms that make sure that every time the kettle boils and I squeeze the burning bag between my fingers it is you who I think of. And you who I remember. 
             If I was not such a tea-drinking addict then perhaps I would be able to continue my days not thinking so much of how you are no longer here, or how you left so unexpectedly. Perhaps I would not need to remember your ballsy approach to life, that loudness and bluntness you so often used in your talk. That which would always be contrasted by your warmth and attentiveness that showed how you weren’t as tough as you thought. And what made me feel important, and somehow safe. I wish you could know that I think of you on these times, whether it be morning or just before bed. And I wish you could know that you did enter my life, in a way you might not have realised. And that these moments of impact reside in me.                                                                      
             I know they say that life isn’t fair, and there seems enough evidence for this to be true. But sometimes the truth doesn’t aid in loss, and if I could be blissfully ignorant in my thoughts of you then that is what I would choose.
            But a cup fills in my hands more often than not. And so reminders of something best forgotten reoccur. A strong and milky taste of something now unreachable. And yet, something meaningful.
            With each sip a legacy grows.
            You will never be forgotten.


The sun comes in and takes a peak over my shoulder. The toy birds on my sill sit fittingly against the cloudless sky framed in the window, and an aeroplane leaves a trail of white across the blue canvas. It is the perfect day. I sit and flip through my recipe book trying to choose what to cook. The copy in front of me has cleverly divided food into seasons, and even further into months. I sit with the pages of April open in my lap. Sounds of The Rolling Stones spin out of the record player next to me, and just now my favourite track comes on. The moment seems shaded by a particular happiness, an openness to detail not usually recognised. It is a welcomed feeling. Pictures of lamb and mackerel spread out before me, and I flip to notice colours from pistachio cake and a blood orange sorbet. My mind is taken to memories simultaneously. Days from childhood by the river, afternoons next to you in the kitchen of our home, smells from a far off holiday house. They visit me with a nostalgic charm and I am lifted by the images.
            It is difficult to choose what to fill my plate with today. The tone of the light suggests something natural and not too fussy. Something full of crunch and simplicity. My eyes fall upon a recipe for mustard chops and a seasonal coleslaw. A homemade yogurt accompanies the main. This is the meal for me. I have never believed in cooking against instinct and the dish seems in perfect harmony with my mood. Too much planning is always a difficulty; one should always listen to the time and place. I remember when you tried to tempt me with cod on a freezing winter night, dressed in the zestiest of juices I’d ever tasted. We must have drunk half a bottle of cognac to make up for the gap in our tummies. The indigestion was atrocious. But you were always like that, happy to go with the flow. Never minding too much about what was right or wrong. I respected you for that.
The record on the player changes track and another classic heads into my ears. I am covered by words that ring home truer today than any other day. ‘You can’t always get what you want’ seems the most honest sentence in the world. Perhaps perspective is more valuable than one once thought. Or perhaps it just makes things seem more distant. I scroll down the recipe list and check I have all that I need. There are a few things missing but I know suitable substitutes that I can put in their place. I was never a fan of coriander anyway, mint always seemed the better choice.
               As I head out the back to collect my herbs I hear the children next door playing in their yard. The gap in the fence exposes their movements as shadows dash back and forth. Sprays of water spring up as a hose is used on the attack, and I smile at their innocence. It seems unjust that adults aren’t able to return to that place, a time when all that mattered was there and then. No thinking ahead, no planning, no worry. That was other peoples’ job, to sort out the seriousness that was hinted at you now and then. At that time the concept of serious didn’t mean a thing. There was just dissolvable joy. And perhaps the occasional mishap. But these never lasted long. A day was just another day.
              The pan on the stove smokes with heat and I prepare the chops for the grill. The garlic and mustard cover my fingers and feels soft on my worn out skin. Who was it that said condiments were great for the skin? It must have been your aunt, she was always suggesting things of the sort. I wait until the pan is dry and then place the meat upon its plate. The sizzle unleashes the most delectable smell. There is nothing quite like the taste of spring lamb. As the meat browns I chop my herbs and greens finely and with ease. The scars still lie on my hands from the burns and cuts of previous attempts. These days the muscles in my hands remember the movements and I almost don’t need to look. Each strip comes under the blade and out again with continual rhythm. I pick up a bean and crunch it between my teeth. The skin gets stuck behind my molar. I don’t bother picking it out.
              Meaty smoke soon fills the room and wafts out my open door. It mixes with odours of other grilled meals from houses close by and further on. It enters my nose and drops onto my tongue wetting my slow appetite. I realise what it is that I am missing. I reach for the shelf where the wine bottles lie. The collection seems smaller than I remember. But some good bottles still remain. I pick out a ’97 pinot from France. I don’t need anything too heavy tonight. The cork releases with that familiar pop and the grapes smell just right in my glass. The colour soothes my eyes with its sight and I take a relaxed breath as I sip. The tastes on my tongue add another layer to my memories. It is almost impossible to stop their arrival. It seems you will haunt me through every meal whether I choose it or not.
             I flip the chops and watch the juices spit. They are turning the perfect colour. Reaching for a spoon I scoop out some yoghurt and add the chopped mint and garlic. It needs seasoning so i add the salt and black pepper. Whipping it turns it to a lovely thickness and i am happy with the way it tastes. My meal is now nearly complete. Tossing the greens with the lemon and zest i pile them onto the plate. The oil dribbles down the side. The chops come off the heat and onto the greens merging their very flavours. I finish the meal with a dollop of yogurt that really ties it all together.
             I sit down and stare at my plate. The colours and textures look finely matched. I know it will taste delicious. The fork and knife sit patiently next to it, waiting to get involved. I pull my hands up but then reach for my glass instead. I take a continual amount of sips. The red wine goes to my head and lifts me up and out of the kitchen. My reflective mood gets the better of me and soon my mind is wandering. I have left the table and am looking at things from a different view. I am up high staring at the line of my life. It stretches from my childhood to now and into the future. There are bumps and breaks in the line and I think of what each of them might mean. I wonder at the person that I was at those points. If it is possible that part of who i was at the beginning has stayed with me until now. How much of us really remains the same? Can I honestly say what I lived for then is what I live for now? I feel that this is unlikely.
             There is a point where the line is snapped in two. It breaks off and begins again in another direction. The cause of this break is not uncertain. I know the reason for the split. I look to where the line continues but cannot see too far. The future remains hidden as before. I stay up here, quiet and pensive amongst my thoughts. It has always been a trait of mine, to question. I feel perhaps this is a thing that will never change. Then again, there are certainly factors that seem to enter into our worlds unexpectedly, causing a shift not anticipated. Maybe my habits are not as set as they seem. One thing is for certain however, you cannot predict the future. 
              My eyes soften as I stare into space. The wine glass empties bit by bit. Sounds soften outdoors as twilight takes it hold on the day. A new phase begins again, transitioning from day to night.
              Below me my food grows cold.


Push the gate and through you come down to the garden’s edge. Prickled bushes and shrubby land lies scattered all around. Pebbled paths and uneven ground crushes beneath your feet and toes delight in the touch of soil as you move along the bricks.
Eyes become dazed as the sun is caught behind the canopy of leaves; you are lost in a darkened world.  Temperature drops and relieves heated skin, and for a moment there is mist amongst the air. Shade comes in to dominate the stage as the sun becomes the understudy for this play; a ribbon of wind comes twisting towards your neck sending a ripple of shiver down your spine. You creep along further and further, feeling your way along the old brick wall. The sound of your steps echo along the path but the birds do not seem to mind. The ground becomes wet where the sun cannot reach and the cold is a shock to the skin. But down beyond at the end of the way a light is showing its shape and your legs carry you forwards towards the glow.
Heading out the haze strikes you like a slap, but the nature of the blow is friendly. The garden waits for your arrival and stands still and patiently in the sun. Trees and leaves block anything from view as they thicken up and high; it has been a while since you have come to play. Looking up you see the sky of this July day blue and wide and clear, it seems the seasons have found their place this time for once. Sounds of the street get lost behind the house and for a moment you forget the street at all. The place surrounds and shelters you and now new rules apply. The trees form the filter for this place, each branch a natural barrier. Let it slip away, let all those things slip away... you do not need to worry for them today.
You crouch and inspect the different shapes and sizes of your collection. The edges of the boxes are decrepit but you do not let appearances fool you. Hiding behind the mould and dirt is more than just worms and earth. Turning you reach for your bag and pull out the gloves. They fit your fingers like a second skin and feel familiar on your hands. They are dark with dirt and stains but the years have been kind none the less. Warmth reaches down and spreads along your arms like reassurance; anxieties disperse with its touch. You give in to the sound of the day and the feel of the air and breathe calmly in this refuge.
Crouching is never easy but you bend your knees upon the ground. The earth creates implants in your skin but soon you forget its touch. The time has come to search. You lift one branch and then the other, heading in to the plants behind. Leaves scratch the skin and brush your face but you do not mind their contact. Spider webs break with your caresses and stick to the sides of your gloves, they are nature’s cotton candy. Your back bends as you hunt lower and lower, fingering through the web. Soon you begin to feel them, little round lumps of gold. They huddle in groups away from the light and wait with safety in numbers. You reach back for your clippers and bring your blade down upon their branch, clipping them free from the plant. They look beautiful. Green little parcels of bitter sweet juice, they are always a sight to behold.
You gather the groups one by one filing your bowl with the fruit. Sweat comes down along your brow as the sun remains in the sky. It trickles along your ears and down to your neck, drying and cooling your skin. The jasmine above starts to thrive in the heat. Its sweet smell is a reminder of days now gone by but the reminder is worth every penny. Honey suckle moments and sugar coated daydreams – has it really been that long? The fruit shines out beside you with a translucent green glow and looks alive with the colour of lime. You desire their taste in your mouth, that bitter sour taste. You reach down and pluck one from its bunch, the fir feels weird in your hand, tingling and soft. You lift it up and place it in your mouth, biting the fruit between your teeth. The juice spills out between your bite, spreading down your tongue to your throat. Its tartness refreshes you in the heat, sending your mind to other places. Your eyes water from the sourness but the sensation is addictive so you reach for another. After four or five your tongue starts to toughen so you leave the rest in their place.
Turning back you feel the air of the day change. Clouds are beginning to drift and scatter themselves in the blue. The plant you have gone to is empty so you move on across to the next. As before your hands have to journey deep beyond the first layer to reach the hidden gems. Your efficiency quickens with the time. Soon the wind picks up and you wonder if it is time to stop. Four bushes lay bare from your approach and you feel a bit like a thief. Something shadows across your eyes and for a moment you wonder if you are alone. The trees are there, standing there with you. So are the leaves on their arms. But no, no one is with you.    
Looking down you see that your basket is full, overflowing in fact. This amount will surely do. Smells have softened and afternoon sounds begin suggesting the end of the day. You relieve your knees and move to the ground, stretching your legs out in front. The bend in your limbs look stiff and you realise you are not as young as you thought. Removing your gloves you look to your hands, studying their form and shape. Who knows how much has been held in those palms, how much has slipped through their grip. It cannot be said in a lifetime. Perhaps there is still more to touch. Creeping and crawling is felt on your leg and you look to see a little friend, his body bends and extends as he moves. Reaching down you pick him up, placing him on your finger. He moves with an evenness and rhythm, pacing himself through the day. It would be nice to have such a balance, a sense of stability and poise. But nature did not equip you with such a simple form, your make-up is complex and unsure, and so your rhythms could never be as gentle. You place him down next to a leaf and let him on his way. It is time for your own departure.
Standing up you look around and see life in its all its light. You breathe it in and absorb its taste and let it fill your lungs. It cannot be said when you will return but you trust it shall be soon. Bending down you grab your bowl and lift it off the ground. The gooseberries sit there nestled safe and you thank nature for its fruit; they are a treat in this world. Stepping through the thickened shrub you head towards the path. The garden stays there still behind and does not say a word.
Beyond the street awaits.  


A woman jogs by in a pair of dark brown corduroy flares and a green bikini top – the people in the cafe have to agree on the degree of effort displayed as she strides on past. Inside low-key indie music strums among the background noise and gives a grungy afternoon feel. Cushions are flattened by bottoms in jeans and skirts reveal patterned legs from tights below their hems. Woollen cardigans wrap around the shoulders of some top halves whilst others brave a tee. Newspapers are crumpled and licked, turned and molested as minds search for their piece of entertainment. The sports listings seem the most abused. Across the road another unfortunate soul is getting booked as a traffic inspector makes his ninth kill for the day. They are the enemy of the people, loathed by some and detested by all. The girl with pig tails watches the man in uniform and plays with the hair on her plastic doll. Her mother hasn’t noticed the attention to detail yet, the meticulous planning that will lead to her later development in the style world. For the moment the woman is just concerned with her usual conundrums: how to juggle organic groceries, fill her pram with biodegradable products, and still manage to drive a car and not get stitched by fuel prices. The world seems full of contradictions.
Right on cue two cheese-topped slabs of bread come parading out of the kitchen. No one in the room misses their arrival. They are greasy and delicious, and ooze with fatty goodness. Teaspoons stop stirring, babies stop crying; envy and jealousy go straight to the top of the charts. The receivers look proud in their delivery and already feel the satisfaction of their endeavour. The simplest things in life still prove to be the best, and the classic combination is admired. But soon will power is enforced, wallets are checked and put away, and the urge to indulge ultimately succumbs within the room. The smell remains a nasty reminder, however. The track quickly changes and reveals an array of sexy beats. Minds wander to the sea and thoughts of sun-tanned skin. Ambience wafts as lattes are sipped, and all the crowd are chilled.
Soon a pair of sun-shaded eyes enter the room. The frames are enhanced by a bold blunted fringe and gold studded clip-ons.  A collar sticks up adding an edge of attitude, but the subtle peachy-keen on the lips suggests approachable as opposed to cold. The man in the double-breasted coat on the couch clocks her straight away. The toes inside his polished vintage shoes curl upwards, revealing his reaction to those who are attent to detail. She moves over towards the counter and gazes at the drink board. The man at the bench takes a guess at her order but only gets it half right. It is her decision for full-cream milk that throws him; he swore she would have gone for soy. Perhaps he is losing his touch. Behind his shoulder chefs are hard at their work. Brownies are poured and pressed whilst bacon crisps up on the stove. The Sunday mayhem is never at ease and hands work double-time. Orders for eggs over easy come through whilst some say toast on the side. Their rhythm is quick and straight to the point and neither need to look at the clock. Time races on without thinking and there is nothing truer than it’s hot in the kitchen.
The girl takes a seat nestled behind rows of others, revealing just half of her figure to the two eyes that follow her.  Impressions seem to be lasting as he fails to remove his stare. It fascinates him how time can be slowed to these moments. How it is possible that whole days and weeks can run by unnoticed, and then moments like these hover slowly and intently. He feels the pages of his book, caressing the corner as he contemplates. The pages tingle in his fingertips and feel rough on his skin. It is his third George Orwell novel in 2 months; something inherent in the writer keeps him drawn to his words. Perhaps it is the romance of his earlier work, the tramp-like efforts in Down and Out in Paris and London that call to him; he romanticises bohemia.
She sits unaware of the eyes upon her, thoughts moving inwards and away. This last week has been a shake up and outer impulses don’t reach her at this time. The glossy lips are pursed as her face exposes her thoughts. It is her biggest give away, the ability for her features to take on a life of their own and express emotions not truly felt. There has been no shortage of concerned questions, of ‘what’s-the-matter?’ when all she thought she was feeling was fine. It is ironic that in her happier moods people seem most alarmed. Her food arrives and she enjoys the salty taste of the item. She enjoys each bite and removes the wedged parts out of her teeth with her tongue. 
Does she know that this is it – this moment, the beginning of everything else that is going to come? If she had known would she still have walked into the cafe, aware of what she could potentially change? Do people really believe in doing things differently, or is there this ultimate faith that what happens is subtly and quietly meant to be? At this time she displays no sense of premonition. She drifts along with the beats of the speakers and softly taps her fingers on the pages of her magazine. Caffeine enters her bloodstream and sifts around pulsing inside her skin. Briskly she looks up and notices his stare. A breath is paused, a heartbeat is lifted (it is unclear if caffeine is the cause).  Such open contact is unusual between the pair, subtler tactics are usually employed. But his eyes get to her and keep her stare. Neither gives anything away, but something has crossed between them. She resumes her view to her lap. The moment has got to her but not unnerved her. She is not intimidated by him. It is not the first time a man has looked at her like that, that look that seems to penetrate the thin layer of appearance and go beyond aesthetic applications. But normally this would lead to a string of occurrences, unnatural and fatal, with any resulting contact leaving a bruise instead of a compliment. No, this is not the first time she has seen this look.
Toasted crusts are left undigested on bread-crumbed plates and saucers. The daughter has finished her playtime and tugs on the jeans of her mother. The mum remains engrossed in conversation with her partner. Slices of cake and frothed up macchiatos traffic backward and forward, and the cash register takes its payment. Time moves on in this rhythm. The man in the jacket does not slip into this time. He is on another soundtrack.  Rationale is usually his second nature but something makes it go this time. Logic cannot be applied it seems. But what to go by if not logic? Can he accept that things sometimes do not make sense? Is it the combination of these two beings (the first a rational, structured type, the other an unprompted, contemplative identity), is it the actual mixing of these two that could create the ultimate balance, give opportunity for an unqualified equilibrium and move him to a place unanticipated? Life has been known to him only as a straight line. There has been no room for deviation. None, that is, until now.
A strip of sunlight stretches out onto the ground outside. Specks of dust lift in its stream and float as if dancing in the light. The young girl sees the dust and goes to it. She lifts her Barbie up into the sky and dances with her like a queen. They prance and step in the sunshine’s melody, and drift away into imagination. The mother feels a vibration and goes to answer her blackberry. Problems with the house again, another hurdle to overcome. She concentrates on her response, not noticing that the small life by her leg has moved. Another hungry customer comes in to consume and leaves the door ajar. The girl wants more of the light, she wants to live with the fairy dust in its golden world. She leaves the crowded cafe and goes towards the light. Outside the owner of the car has returned to his spot. The ticket stares him in the face. Fury rises as the piece of paper sits there, mocking him in its plastic case. He cannot bare it. Anger takes over and he unlocks the car. He turns on the engine and cannot think straight.
The man looks towards the girl and inhales. He wants her to look up again, to connect with that face one more time. The grasp he holds though only remains on his book and she keeps her two eyes face down. Calm descends on both of the pair but now it is time for her to go. She folds the magazine and puts its painted pictures back in the pile. The waiter comes up and clears the plate in front of him, blocking his view of her those few moments. By then it has already happened; the crusts are gone and so is she. He sits with an unexpected alertness. She is not amongst the crowd. He looks to see the last of her coat leaving the room, the lifted collar saying goodbye. He jumps. Rationale has left and in its place intuition takes hold. The room is crowded and he has to shove past the chewing customers and freshly squeezed juices. He reaches the door and sees her. She has raised the shades to her eyes once more in response to the brightened light. Without thinking he calls to her. His toes in his shoes clench further. She stops. He calls again. She waits and then turns. The sun streams down and falls upon her face. She is the most beautiful thing he has seen. He cannot find the next move to act. Words escape his mind and his mouth. 
He moves towards her, he has to reach her. As he steps the light blocks his view and instantly he is blind. He is overcome by her beauty and does not notice the younger beauty by his side. Inside the blackberry has been returned and the mother’s attention along with it. She looks down and sees a vacant spot. Her eyes and ears are alert. Her face dashes from side to side. She turns and sees her child outside on the path, the golden light covering her; the most beautiful thing she has seen. The mother races up. In the car the man sees red. Logic is no longer present as he starts the engine and pulls out of the curb. He comes up past the cafe and into stream of light.
The man walks further into the blindness. He is getting closer to her. The girl dances and does not see him. The man in the car drives on.
Another step. Another twirl. Golden light. Impulse. Three colliding beings. 
The mother steps out. ‘Gracie!’ The man in the car sees her. He screeches.
Lightness turns to dark. The young man is there, holding the girl. The doll lies crushed beneath the wheel. Golden dust vanishes as she cries in his arms. The mother races to them. ‘Thank you, thank you. Oh dear God thank you.’
The shades see everything. She sees a glimpse of a moment nearly lost, a sign of life’s fragility. A breath slips slowly from her, releasing between her lips. She feels it; a connection has begun. The young man looks to her willingly, convincing her with his eyes. Something has begun to grow, a creation of something new. Yet a subtle shade has tainted the beginning, a tone of warning attached.  A quiet omen lingers; can good be born from tragedy?  The mother and the driver shout, but the two do not hear them. Nothing else penetrates their world.    
                A shot of steam escapes the espresso machine, hot air rising in the barista’s face. Inside the toast is browning and plumy jams are spread. Another track changes and conversation switches topic. It is just another Sunday in the city.

Kit Kat

Every Sunday was family day. Well, I say family day but really what I mean is it was the day we would go pick up Nanna from her house in Carlton and bring her back to stay at ours. She used to come more often, to special occasions like birthdays and Hanukah, but then she started insulting any guests we invited. So we had to stop bringing her. She lived in a big house all by herself. We used to play in the shed when me and my sister were little, but then we got too big for the shed and started playing in the house. The house was old and smelt of stale carpet. There were bowls of plastic fruit in every room. I remember when I tried to eat a grape. It didn’t taste very nice. The walls had frames with pictures of my mum and my uncle in them. It was funny seeing my mum when she was young, she didn’t seem like the same person that I saw every day. I guess it’s because she wasn’t. There weren’t any other photos in the house, none of Nanna’s relatives. Just mum and her brother. Actually there may have been one or two of his kids, and maybe one of me and my sister. But that was it.
I never met my grandfather. He died before I was born. Mum said he was a nice man. Nanna never really spoke of him. I remember lying to my cousin one time pretending that I had met him. He was two years older than me. He said it was impossible because he had met him when he was one but then he died so how could I have met him. I still said I did.
Every time we went to get Nanna on Sunday me and my sister would hide in the back seat pretending we weren’t there. We would crouch down, silent, watching Dad with his finger on his lips. She would get in the car and we would drive off turning onto the road. We sat there quiet, trying not to giggle. Then after a few minutes we would jump up and shout ‘Surprise!’ Nanna would turn and say ‘My darlinks!’. One time I crouched down too low and got stuck between her seat and mine. Dad had to pull over and pick me out. I don’t think I ever did it after that.
Nanna always gave us kit kats on Sundays. She would turn to us in the car and hand us each a red square bar. I would push the chocolate out and run my finger down the foil to make a line. Then I would break off a finger at a time and eat the chocolate around the outside leaving the biscuit till last. The bars she gave us were always stale. Later mum told me it was because she used to steal them from nursing homes and stash them in a cupboard. There were heaps of them, red square packages piled up one on top of the other. They would sit there for months. I didn’t really mind. I still ate them. Sometimes I would try and steal my sister’s because she would eat hers slower. I always wanted what she had. Dad would turn around and tell us to stop arguing. I only came on Sundays for the kit kats.
         When we got home Nanna would head straight to the kitchen and start cleaning. She always cleaned. I often wondered why mum didn’t leave her more to do if she knew Nanna was coming. She would put the radio on extra loud and wash and scrub and scrape. One time when mum was having important people over for dinner she couldn’t find the posh cutlery. We looked all over the house for it. ‘Nanna’s hidden it.’ she said. I didn’t understand why Nanna would want to hide knives and forks. An hour later we found them, stashed at the back of the cupboard. They were wrapped in a tea towel and elastic bands, camouflaged right in the corner. It took her three goes to haul it out.
Nanna rarely ate with us. The most I ever saw her eat was a piece of toast with nothing on it. She always drank tea though. Tea with a biscuit. I often drank it with her. She said me and her were the same because we both put milk in our tea. She said it was the European way. Mum just had hers black.
On Passover Nanna would make the gefilter fish. They were soft mushy patties the size of your palm and the colour of dead skin. Watching her make them used to make me cringe. She would feed the fish into the grinder with her swollen fingers and churn it round and round. The flesh came out crushed to a pulp and smelt like a lump of cat food. She pushed them into patties and then put a boiled carrot on top. I always thought they looked unhealthy. Mum told me they were a tradition.
After dinner on Sunday I would drive back with dad to drop Nanna home. By this time it was usually late and I often fell asleep in the back. We would pull up and I would watch Nanna go back inside her house. The light would go on and then we would drive off again. Sometimes I would catch her looking out the window, her small face peeping out from the lace curtain. The next week we would come and get her again. She was always waiting. I wondered what she did on the other days of the week.