By Will Ashon.
She sat there by the window of the café wondering how she was going to tell him. The sky beyond was a flat grey-white, bright and sunless. It should be easy. It wasn’t like he didn’t already know. He must have noticed. He must have felt it. But the issue wasn’t so much about what it was than what it represented. It wasn’t a matter of her appearance but how she felt inside. She moved her cup a little and adjusted her posture, uncomfortable in the seat, still not used to it. She tried to remember how he had looked the previous night when they’d finished having sex and she had rolled off him. Had there been any uneasiness? Had he refused to meet her eye? No, she concluded, at least no more than usual. He had been drunk. She had made sure he was drunk. But all the same. How drunk could he have been? She looked at her watch. Ten minutes. She had to make him understand that she had grown and changed as a person. That what he had touched was a manifestation of that change. She tried to distract herself with deciding whether to get another tea but decided to wait until he got here. Because people changed, didn’t they? That was the whole point, the whole reason for the operation, to reflect that change. She shifted in her seat again. The bandages had only come off the previous Friday and it was odd to feel air, the movement of her skirt. But really, would he understand? Had he ever understood anything about her? There was so much to him she found loveable – his smell, that sense of dependability, the little whining noise he made before he came – but no one was going to pretend he rated highly for emotional intelligence. The man up at the counter was watching her, or so it seemed to her, and unconsciously she angled herself round to face him. Really, when it came down to it, the man she was in love with was a great big dolt. A great big loveable dolt but a dolt nonetheless. He was never going to change, he was already what he would always be. So how would he, of all people, understand change in someone else? How could he? She reached into her bag and pulled out her mirror, checked her make-up, well aware it was of no importance. She pushed the compact back into her bag and snapped the catch. And with that snap she decided something, or seemed to, standing in a sudden rush and swinging round towards the door, hoping to get out of here and away before he arrived. As she turned, her tail – two and half foot long, curving up at the end, dusted with downy blond hairs – flicked round and caught the cup, set it spinning, so that she heard its base clatter faster on the table top for the moment before it fell and smashed. She knew getting it had been the right decision, but all the same it would take some getting used to.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Will Ashon writes novels (Clear Water and The Heritage so far, both published by Faber & Faber) and (kind of) runs Big Dada, a record label. He also sits very well, stands adequately and moves without difficulty. He can be found at Vernaland.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, April 21st, 2009.