I first saw Michael and his wife, Ellen, at the café where, each morning without fail, I would, at six, drink a coffee, read the newspaper, and while away the hours watching passers-by and patrons as they came and went. This time was, for me, something of a solitary social outing, and it was generally the only time I left the house each day. It was solitary in that, excepting the girl who made my coffee and whose name was, I think, Michelle, though her name tag changed sufficiently that either she forgot hers and had to use whatever was available, or the café itself didn’t much care what she called herself or how she was known, except for her I spoke with nobody at all, and it was social in that for all I would spend three or four hours sitting there alone, the sheer weight of people making their way through the café, whether to buy a takeaway coffee or, like me, to sit leisurely sipping from a mug, and also the people who walked by the large double windows by the front bench where I sat that directly overlooked the street, at first older, retired people walking their dogs or one another, athletic young women in lycra and sweatbands, and men jogging along wearing singlets and listening to music from their headphones, but then, as office hours approach, men and women in suits began to appear, at first irregularly and then with increasingly regularity until they became the dominant group, and also sweaty delivery boys, shop attendants opening stores, students, sometimes, and endless variations of smart black dresses and dark grey suits. This morning, which had seemed from the outset to be the same as any other, for it is only after a significant event that we look back for meaning or premonitory happenings, and never before, because that wouldn’t make any sense, and yet looking back always seems valid, to the point where someone might say that they knew something strange would occur that morning because their tooth ached, or their pet was acting strange, or they had a slight twinge in their chest, implying that oddity or excitement or special must be foreshadowed in order to be the fullest expression of itself. An unexpected event where such a story cannot be concocted is lesser in importance than one which can, and thus it has become an accepted aspect of polite conversation to share stories and begin them with a short introductory passage that is effectively divination, witchcraft, paganism.
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The above piece of writing comprises part of my fragments project, some of which are available on this website. I intend to add new fragments piecemeal, not in any particular order, and as the occasion take me.