by Claire Powell
The man steps out of his car. Tomasz remains where he is, both hands on the wheel, as though still moving.
It’s black outside, but they’ve stopped on the high street, beneath a yellow lamp. There’s a McDonald’s on the corner, brightly lit, open.
Moments earlier, while pulling out, something had caught Tomasz’s eye: a gift shop filled with teddy bears and glossy heart-shaped balloons. It seemed surreal at first, but now he realises, of course: Valentine’s Day.
The man bends down, picks up his wing mirror.
Tomasz remembers the card Lena once made him. A photo of them in bed, their faces close, pretending to sleep. Stupid really – he’d taken it himself. Had held his arm up high, touched his thumb to the button, closed his eyes before it flashed. To the man of my dreams, she’d written inside. Had he given one to her?
The man opens his boot, removes some kind of tool. Get out, he’s shouting. At least, that’s what Tomasz assumes he’s shouting. He can’t actually hear since – somehow – the radio volume has increased. ‘Lady in Red’ plays out loud.
Tomasz’s hands remain on the steering wheel. How strange. To be thinking of Lena in a moment like this. How surreal. He pictures her inthe crimson bridesmaid dress she wore for her sister’s wedding. She hated that dress, said it made her look like a heavy period.
The man pulls at the handle of Tomasz’s door.
A heavy period! Tomasz was disgusted at the time. He didn’t disagree or tell her she looked good.
The man bangs Tomasz’s window. First with his fist, then with the tool.
He didn’t tell her she looked good, though now he sees she was beautiful.
Glass shatters into Tomasz’s lap. How strange it looks. Surreal. Almost like confetti.
About the Author
Claire Powell is a freelance writer from London. She has an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia where she was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Bursary and the Malcolm Bradbury Continuation prize. Her short stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and published in The Manchester Review and The Standard Hotel Short Story Compendium. In 2017 she won the Harper’s Bazaar short story contest. She’s currently working on a collection.