The lunchtime crowd had dispersed by the time that Josh arrived; back to their mundane office jobs, their lives on the fringes of being real as they spend their nights watching reality TV in front of a ready meal.
‘Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.’
One of his favorite poems from school sprang to mind; the only good thing to come out of those mundane classes, but he remembered his English teacher and the passion for literature that she had tried to instill in a classroom of uninterested pupils. At the time, the words seemed vague and unreal, but the reality of life has kicked him down again. The words resonated in his mind as he pushed open the door of the pub, set in a busy intersection off Princes street. Anna trailed behind. He barely gave her a glance as he scoured the room looking for Luke.
‘Over here, you two!’ Luke voice cut through the deep aggressive burr of a smoky Scottish pub. Josh made his way to the far corner and sat down. Luke had a pint in front of him; half full. Just like my life, Josh thought. Half baked and going nowhere…
‘I’ll have an orange juice Lukey.’ Anna spoke up and sat down on the opposite side of the table. She placed her handbag on the table and pulled out a compact, which she gazed at, ignoring him.
‘Righto, Anna my dear, be back in a minute. Pint for you Josh?’
Josh managed a smile. He looked out if the window onto the bustling street outside. From this position he could see the tall grey stone buildings that made up the main thoroughfare of Edinburgh. The gold letters of ‘The Royal’ were painted onto the pub glass; reversed letters that seemed somehow significant. Beads of condensation ran down the window making the shoppers look blurred and unfocused, as if they were aliens.
The tension inside was palpable.
Anna continued looking at her compact, completely engrossed in the task of putting on lipstick. Was she trying to wear him down? Knowing that she had the upper hand in this scenario, was she milking the situation for all its worth?
‘Well Joshie, I have news.This involves Anna as well, listen up you two.’ Luke placed a tray on the table, which held a pint and a small bottle of juice and a glass. A couple of packets of crisps were thrown down beside the drinks for good measure.
‘I’ve spoken to Jazz this morning. He wants the band to continue on its tour whatever has come up.’ He looked awkwardly at Anna, who stared back at him wide eyed.
‘Jazz has a mate down South who owns a cracking little flat. Its not that far from your mum’s Josh.’ Luke looked at his mate encouragingly.
‘He says that he can get the flat no probs, so that you and Anna can be near family, so to speak, but you can continue in the band. Anna can do what she wants there and we can carry on touring. Jazz has already booked gigs for a European tour after this one. What say you Anna?’
Anna spilled her drink.
Suzanne Bowditch, 2016
Poem extract from The Love Story of Alfred J Prufrock by TS Eliot.