Story 17Button 17



I thought about K again last night.

I imagined us down by the docks. It was our first date, and I made it very windy so that the blossom on the trees in the middle of the street was being tossed out, and pink petals were making quick and crazy patterns in the air and on the concrete. It looked lovely. I was wearing my white dress with the pink flowers on it of course, to match.

One thing that I noticed as we were walking there, and which I still can’t explain now, was his jacket. It was one of those heavy dark blue duffle coats, blocky, with a bucket hood and tartan lining. In real life, K wears a zip-up Fred Perry jacket – I know this, because each time I’ve seen him wear it I get the same pang of anxiety that I am definitely not edgy enough for him. But this coat had buttons. No, not buttons -  toggles. Those weird oblong ones that always make me feel faintly sad when they aren’t done up: just clinging to the coat, a bit limp and pathetic. Well, once I’d noticed this, I tried to put it right: I kept zipping him back into is Fred Perry, but for some reason we’d only get a few paces and the duffle coat would come back again, toggles and all. So in the end I just went with it.

At some point, I must have fallen asleep and started dreaming properly – because he suddenly stopped and said, ‘Hey, wait. I need to button my coat up, it’s too windy.’ So I waited for him, as he started slowly pushing those toggles in through the loops up the front of the coat. He had started at the bottom and I was watching his fingers as they twisted and contorted-up trying to force the fiddly little things through. He was almost done – but the top one was putting up a real struggle: the harder he tried, the more the little toggle just wouldn’t go through, and the more frustrated he grew. At that moment I said, ‘Do you want me to help you with that?’

He looked-up at me, a bit surprised, but then smiled and said, ‘would you mind?’ And it seemed like the most natural thing in the world, me standing there carefully feeding the toggle through the loop, just like he was a little boy – and him watching me the whole time. Once I’d finished, I looked up at him. He was looking right into my eyes – and I could feel that he was about to kiss me.
Well I never got to know what that would be like, because at that moment my old English teacher turned-up, and it turned into a dream about me not being able to remember what pathetic fallacy was and how it was used in Jane Eyre.

When I woke up this morning, there were new pictures of K on Facebook from a night out in Liverpool. He was wearing his Fred Perry in all of them. Every time my finger clicked to the next image, I remembered the feeling of that little wooden toggle in my fingers, and I thought how much better he would look all done-up in that big woollen duffle coat.




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