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What You’re Reading

16 May, 2012

day 16 of the May fiction challenge. There were a few false starts as I considered a few different ideas, binned them and then followed the classic Trivial Pursuit guideline and went with my first thought. Some non-British readers may not recognise some of the names in the last couple of paras, but I think you will still get the point…

Daniel dropped the spoon into the sink and picked up the two identical mugs. “White, no sugar,” he said, handing one of them to Rachel. She smiled as she took her coffee and whispered a quiet thanks. “Cheers,” Daniel said, saluting her with his mug and sipping tentatively at his own coffee. Rachel returned the gesture but as she lifted her mug to her lips she felt its heat against her face and she blew at the rising steam. It fled from the surface, left tiny ripples which echoed against the china.

“Shall we go through?” he asked, and led the way from the kitchen. Rachel followed him across the narrow hallway and into the lounge. He stood near the door, invited her to make herself comfortable while he selected a CD from the stack next to his hi-fi. He hmmmed as he perused the pile, tapped his finger against his chin as he thought, but in truth he had decided before their date this evening that he would play Jamie Cullum if she came back afterwards. Bit jazzy, bit lively but still sophisticated and JC was popular with the ladies. He slid the disc into the tray, pressed play and as the first piano bars began, he turned back to Rachel.

She was sitting at one end of the sofa, and as he placed the case nonchalantly on the coffee table in front of her, its cover uppermost to ensure she noticed the name, Daniel made a quick calculation. They had enjoyed each other’s company he thought, they had been relaxed together, she had agreed to come back for a coffee, things were going well for a first date. But he had been unable to read her intentions, her objectives, and he rejected the sofa, opting instead for the more neutral choice of the armchair next to it. “Lovely meal wasn’t it?” he said, sipping at his coffee again and resting the mug on his hand. “Wonderful,” Rachel agreed, “I love Mexican food, I can’t believe I didn’t know that place was there.”

“It is a bit away from the main drag I suppose,” Daniel said, “but I like to find the smaller places. Less crowded, less expensive aswell.” Rachel smiled, drank her coffee, and looked around her for somewhere to rest her mug. Daniel saw her uncertainty and pushed a coaster along the table to within her reach. Next to the copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude which he has borrowed from his sister in order to leave it laying around, a bookmark a third of the way through. Rachel set her mug on the coaster and noticed the book. “Marquez!” she said excitedly and picked it up, flicking through to his bookmark and reading a few lines. “I know you said you were a reader,” she said, “but I didn’t realise you were reading Solitude. It’s one of my favourites.”

“Oh yeah, I’m really enjoying it,” Daniel said casually, recalling the opinions he had borrowed along with the book, “it’s so inventive, has an effortless, epic feel .”

“What’s your favourite book then Daniel?” she asked him, leaning forward keenly to hear his response. His plan was working. “Oh, it’s so hard to say,” he admitted, “there are so many wonderful books…” he trailed off as he apparently considered his choice. Rachel returned the book to the table, and noticed the other volumes that had been keeping it company. A pictoral book of famous football grounds, a biography of Will Carling, a rant by Jeremy Clarkson. “I do enjoy the classics,” Daniel offered, “Dickens, Sherlock Holmes, you know…”

Rachel looked behind Daniel to the small bookshelf, two thirds full, with one shelf dedicated to photos of family and a holiday in New York. On the top shelf was a full set of Harry Potter paperbacks, all pristine, their spines undamaged. A number of Dan Browns accompanied them, more Clarkson, and was that Gary Lineker’s autobiography? The classics indeed, Rachel thought as she picked up her mug and took a large drink of her coffee. The last coffee she would share with Daniel.

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