Tapas

A feeling of surprising ease came over me as I entered the room

Happy expressions are always welcome

I sat

I spoke to those I should have been freer with from the beginning

But hadn’t known how

A girl I secretly admired was flattered that I thought of her

While another girl I thought I knew had banned a dead man from her wedding

I didn’t think such things were possible

I talked with a man about the one thing we had in common

And, while enjoying it, wondered if this was our sole link

I looked for those who were not present and pondered the reasons why

And spoke to an unexpected adult or two, who in different company would have been children

I conversed with a beautiful blonde about her outsized head, her thinning hair, her double loss and her apprehension at being followed

We talked, all of us, about the things we planned to do

And smiled, and nodded, and each knew that not all of us would ever do them

I spoke to someone I had heard was mad

She seemed fine

Though I did not speak to her much

I listened as the centre of everything prattled about delusions, and wondered if he knew that no one cared –

And, when he vented that delusion on another, how he managed to get away with it

Again

Perhaps retribution was inappropriate just then

I held back the thinning hair of the girl with the outsized head as she articulated her fears into the gutter

And listened as one of the adults told me that another absent friend had guttered his whole self

Looking for change from what he thought were strange faces –

As if they could be, only a mile from home

I sat, feeling like Plato

As others supped plant fertiliser in the next room

I only saw their shadows, as usual

She asked for water, tissues, space

She deserves more

I left

It took me longer than I expected

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