Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Failed to do anything

As soon as she got back this afternoon she told us that on the escalator down from the shopping centre she had been standing behind an old man who was carrying a green parachute silk shopping bag that was identical to hers.

Since she was standing directly behind him, she couldn't help noticing the way the tanned skin at the top of his skull was surrounded by soft white hair, and it was then (having noticed the skin and the hair - and the way that the burden in his green silk bag seemed so light, so inconsequential) that she could imagine leaning forwards to address the old man as her friend Kate would have done: remarking on their identical bags and, perhaps, their similar contents, making a joke of it; using the bags as a pretext for making contact with someone.

But even as she imagined doing this - and at the same time becoming convinced that she would never do such a thing - the man turned a little to one side and, from the nose and the glasses (from above), she could see that he was the famous writer that she had often seen in the centre, either buying rice, or at the dry cleaners or reading a paper near the light well - and she couldn't help thinking of all the times when she had been close to speaking to this famous writer in her life - when, for various reasons (the wrong digit in a phone number, an importunate question from somebody else that had prevented her approach at a particular moment), she had taken advantage of her helplessness and actively failed to do anything.

No comments: