Tea Time at the Pub

Claire sat wearing pasta pieces for rings, wet from a cheap tomato sauce. She didn’t come to eat alone, she didn’t come to eat at all. But the inactivity of her phone led her so, and as she sat and sucked the pasta off her fingers, she thought about what could have been, calculated the calories of each pasta piece, and took a picture of her leftover meat. She’d was the Internet’s favourite social queen.

Paul watched the football on the television, going the extra mile by cheering every goal, swearing to every penalty, belching Guinness at any opportunity. One of the lads, fully embracing a sport he did not care much for. He enjoyed the moments in which a fan would hug him after a game well done, the touch of skin so endearing, so rare. He was here every day, he was here every night, the pub legend.

Sophie knelt before the toilet, her new dress covered in a cocktail of stomach acid and alcopops. She’d only had a few, and was set to have far more. But her friends had already gone, no-one left to rub her neck, to hold her hair back. The contents of her stomach floated within the toilet bowl, until she scooped the liquid back to her mouth. Nothing else would leave her that night, she made sure.

Ruth stared at the rain listlessly, gripping a burnt cigarette. She glanced inside and saw her child making a mess of his sausage and mash, wasting her money, her time. A group of girls the same age walked inside, taking selfies to document their night. As she followed them in with her eyes, she caught a reflection of herself, the perfect mum, leaving in a taxi, leaving her burnt cigarette to drown in a puddle.

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