Chapter VI

The next day, in work, the expression “clock watching” took on a whole new dimension. I swore that at one point the clock was actually going backwards.
“Nigel? Is that clock right?”
“As right as it will ever be Tom. By the way, have you put in a restocking order for those paper clips?”
Eventually, finally, the hour reached half past the five and I could finally escape. (I did order the paper clips, in case you were wondering.)
Four minutes to six and I was in the coffee shop. I ordered a skinny tea with extra choc something or other and sat hopefully in the window like the last puppy in the pet shop.
By six thirty my tea was cold and my heart was in my boots. She had stood me up!
I went to text her and thought, sod this for a game of soldiers and rang her. She answered with an echo. “Tom, I’m so sorry.”
I turned around and there she was, looking absolutely drop dead. My anger evaporated like sea mist in the Tropical sun.
“Hi. What do you want?”
“Here, I’ll get it,”
“No its ok really, I-”
I relented because the over politeness was getting quite aggressive.
There, at last we could sit and talk. The first thing I wanted to establish was my credentials as a caring new man.
“Who’s got the kids? Are you ok here on your own?
“Yeah, I’ve left them at home in charge of the chip pan. Rob’s going to text me when the temperature gets to 300 degrees.”
I nodded to myself and sipped my tea. She sipped hers too, her cup hiding the smile playing around her lips.
“They are at my Mums.”
“Right. Got you.”
Silence. Oh god not again.
“Tom?”
“Yeah?”
“You know I said I was seeing someone?”
“Oh yeah I think you mentioned something about that. How is he, he ok?”
My mouth was dry, I was sweating like the Grand National winner.
“Well…to be honest I think its run its course”
Cue the opening fireworks at the start of Manhattan. Utter, complete, untrammelled joy.
I stuck out my bottom lip and nodded to myself. “I see. Hmmm ok, so….”
“The thing is Tom, I haven’t actually told him yet, not in so many words. I mean I have dropped hints and stuff, but, well it’s just so hard.”
“Yeah I can imagine.” Which of course I couldn’t, having never dumped anyone in my life. I always preferred being horrible and distant until they dumped me. What? Like you’ve never done it?

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