The jumper is left draped over the futon with a casual familiarity. He notices it minutes after she has left. The jumper is turquoise flecked with green. It looks comfortable against the cushion, as if in this is the place it should be when not adorning her long slender back. He can’t help feeling she has left it behind deliberately, as a message: get in touch.
He steps over to the sofa, picks it up, buries his face in the wool. He wrinkles his nose in anticipation of her smell, imagining lily-of-the-valley, soft, subtle – his mother’s favourite perfume. But the aroma exuding from the left-behind garment is less fragrant. Cigarette smoke and sweat. She hasn’t washed it in weeks. Now he looks close up he can see red soup stains by the V-shaped neck, sugar crystals stuck to the mid-riff, and what appears to be chocolate on the hem. He hasn’t expected this. For a moment he hesitates.
Then he remembers her smile as she left. He picks up his mobile and texts: You left your jumper behind. Shall I bring it to you? He sits back on the futon, hugging the jumper close to him. It is a little piece of her. Soon, he will have the rest.
She arrives at the bar and orders pernod and blackcurrant. Tiny Tempeh is blaring out from the music system. It is early still. Soon this place will be full of Friday night screeching, but right now she has time to nip out the back for a quick fag. She has her pick of tables, so she chooses one furthest from the door. She takes the cigarette packet from her back pocket, pulls out a slender cigarette, caresses it in her fingers. The lighter flares orange as she places the cigarette in her lips, lighting the tip. She drags in the sweet smell and breathes out a long sigh. The first fag of the evening is always the best – full of hope and desire, before a night’s smoking causes her throat to rasp.
Though there are heaters in the courtyard, she has placed herself too far from them. That was stupid, it is November after all. She shivers, reaching in her bag for her jumper. It is not there. Where can she have left it? She retraces her steps in her mind. The post office? No, she wasn’t wearing it then. The tube. She definitely didn’t have it then. She knew she was wearing it at lunchtime because it was cold when she nipped out for a sandwich. She is still trying to work it out when a message blinks on her phone. You left your jumper behind. Shall I bring it to you? For a moment, she struggles to remember the number and then it comes to her. Jan’s friend. The one who’s DVDs she’d borrowed. She’d dropped them off earlier. She’d forgotten all about that.
She is about to text back, but the door into the patio opens. Her date for the evening. “I thought I’d find you out here.” He smiles. She smiles back, shoving her phone in her bag. She’ll phone wotsisname tomorrow. There’s no rush.
It will take him three weeks of persistent texting to arrange a meeting which will last five minutes. His love will last for a few seconds more.