story 20Button 20



The button has an anchor on it. The cardigan is simple, blue and white of course. Nautical is in this season, isn’t it? The button is simple also and yet it catches the light, and my attention with it. The faintly embossed picture is meaningless, just another retro icon which is being used to sell clothing, and yet it has my attention, my mind already running ahead at the connotations the image provides.

An anchor speaks to me of security, of being held and of holding. An anchor is like arms when they hold me, pulling me down and keeping me grounded and still; like a boat at shore. I never have to think of where home is, I already know. Instead of being a hindrance, it is a comfort; I never worry about straying into danger, the anchor is always there to guide me to a pause.

I trace the outline with a finger and think only of being kept close enough to breathe. The knotted rope which surrounds it makes me smile, though I fight such an expression in such a crowded shop. I think of tying the knot, and of the way a rope binds things together. I was never particularly proficient at any knot other than the slipknot; perhaps that’s why I am left lacking strength now.
In the background I can hear the faint closing of a till drawer, and I can see a lady out of the corner of my eye peruse the same rack as me, only at the opposite side. Her mouth is drawn tight and she glances up at me as I look at her. Her gaze is not unkind, and yet it makes me want to apologise. Has she heard my thoughts? I had forgotten that I existed in this shop for a moment, and I’m reminded now. It is a painful jolt. In reality it is just a gaudy little button. Plastic painted gold and shaped to suit the design of the cardigan it has been sewn onto. My fingers feel cold.

It could be considered pathetic that I contemplate buying the cardigan for a few long moments, if only to feel anchored to something. I am not in the habit of considering myself to be anything these days other than honest with myself, and no one else needs to know. I miss the feeling of being buttoned up tight. I miss the feeling of being stable, like the world has finally stopped spinning.

But, it is just a button.

I drop the button, and the cardigan with it, letting it hang on the rack as if I’d never touched it. Self-consciously I glance around; no one has even noticed my behaviour, and yet I worry. I feel conspicuous and anxious as I walk away; behind me the lady scoops up the cardigan. I ignore the ache in my gut that sits there daily, and I try to forget the way the anchor lingers in my mind as I leave the shop. I need to catch my train.




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