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Friday evening, rain fell listlessly, scatter-blown on a sporadic wind. Kelly sighed as she stared out at the quiet street. Friday evening. She used to spend Friday evening at her sister's house, drinking wine, nattering into the small hours about all the unimportant things that were so important. She nestled back in the wing back chair, a hand-me-down of her great aunt's. It was an ugly thing, with hideous brown fabric in a gaudy design, but it was comfortable, and it wasn't as though they had money for new furniture.

Carl was at work. Friday evening, when everyone else was either at home or out on the town with their partners, Carl was working. He wouldn't finish until seven in the morning. She had a long evening and an even longer night to get through alone.

She thought back to those other Fridays, shrieking with laughter with her sister, their favourite tracks playing on the stereo, the sleeping dog leaping in surprise at each outburst until eventually his patience failed him and he slunk off to the comparative sanity of the kitchen.

The flat was so quiet. It wasn't as though she could invite a friend round to keep her company: she had no friends up here. Everyone seemed to view her with suspicion, wary of the southern accent they regarded as 'plummy', an undercurrent of hostility towards the outsiders coming up here and taking jobs and housing. Like they'd had a choice!

So quiet. The memory of those noisy evenings, those happy evenings, that sense of being in place, belonging, seared through her brain. The contrast was unbearable. The only person she had here was Carl, and he was always working. They might as well have moved to the moon.

To her disgust she realised she was crying again. That was another thing, she kept crying. She never used to do that. And it didn't help, it only served to underscore her misery, to mark her as unhappy, broken. She swiped at her damp cheeks and took a long ragged breath.

It was getting dark, the heavy cloud bringing night early, so she snapped on the standard lamp and clicked on the TV. The flat was suddenly filled with the canned laughter of one of the many panel shows so beloved by the cable channels, mildly funny in company, irritating in the extreme when alone. She stabbed at the buttons angrily, flicking through the channels desperately, hoping to find something worthwhile.

Nothing. And yet, now that noise had chased away the appalling emptiness she could not bring herself to turn it off. She sat down in her chair and picked up her sketch pad and the 2B pencil, worn down to barely more than an inch.

Drawing soothed her and she settled down, the TV blaring, the wind spitting the rain at the sash window, the silence driven back for a while. Maybe, if she could paper these alien walls with her sketches, her colours, her world, just maybe, it might begin to feel more like home. She worked at her sketch book, heedless of the prattling TV or the passing time, forcing her mind to think only of the pencil.

The trill of the phone startled her and it took her several seconds to shake off her artist's trance and remember where she was. She turned the TV off and ran to the phone. 'Hello?'

'Kelly! How are you, sis? God I miss you! It's too quiet here without you. Got time for a chat?'

Kelly's face crumbled and she leaned back against the wall, wiping the hot tears away with a trembling hand. On a shaky breath she spoke, 'Yeah, I have time.'


© 2011 Kay Lawrence.


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