Friday Fish Lady

We were the youngest there by about twenty years. This doesn’t happen to me that often anymore, considering my own advancing age, but here, on a Friday, at lunchtime, the elderly gather. And we gathered, too, catching up on some month’s of news, while we ate fish and other sea creatures and the taxis drove past hooting wildly.

At the table next to us sat a lady, I’d say in her late forties. My age estimation may be completely out, though, because she had the look of someone who has been through the wringer, possibly even backwards. She may well have been in her late thirties.

She had the kind of hair that looks stringy even when its freshly washed and make-up that looked two day’s old, her floral dress was slightly too big and creased. It seemed like she was literally sucking the life out of the air around her. Making her way through a bottle of white wine, she ate her prawns while she stared listlessly over the balcony into the busy street below. I wondered if she was actually seeing anything, or if her thoughts were just swirling around in her head, bashing at each other, pulling each other’s hair. They looked to be those kinds of thoughts.

I was tempted to invite her to join us, to include her in our conversation, but she looked okay, despite my thoughts on her. She looked like she’d brought her bashing around thoughts out to lunch, deliberately and determinedly and that, possibly by the time she reached the bottom of the wine bottle, they may have stilled slightly.

As we left, I hoped they would. Still. And that, perhaps, she’d have some pudding to soak up the wine and prevent her from having one of those yukky, late afternoon, white wine hangovers.

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