He looks dangerous. Thin as thin, pale as pale, nose a blunt glob of indifference. But when he speaks – ‘Come in and buy, don’t spend it elsewhere’. I see his thick make-up, under the pulled-down black baseball cap. Knowle shops, 2pm Thursday afternoon greying over after morning sun, outside the betting shop. ‘I’ll come back later! I must earn some to spend some.’ He laughs. He looks in the shop window,smiles, a dark horse, a football, the odds.

She’s allowed to weep. It’s not a question of permission. She went right in through the swing doors, like a goddess. Swam fifty lengths. Then cried. No reason. Been coming. Everything. The lifeguard crouched over her as she stood on the ladder in the corner of the pool. He is ready for anything serious, or too heavy to float. She felt better. Showered. Out through the swing doors, like a goddess.

Imagine this! But she won’t, too far gone. Don’t imagine anything then. Wipe the screen clear.

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