“I am going to have another...”
A meaningful look but no attempt to finish her sentence. I looked at her quizzically as she fished for something that had fallen down inside the sofa.
“Another what?” I asked, without realising this was the sort of response she hoped to elicit from me.
“I am going to have another cup of tea and you’re going to make it for me.”
She smiled mischievously. She pulled a paper tissue from the sofa – which didn’t seem to me to have sufficient ‘weight’ to have fallen down inside it – and blew her nose noisily. She then pulled out another one and unsmudged her lipstick while peering into a compact mirror. I then reaIised that she must have put the tissues there when I wasn't looking.
“What’s wrong with keeping them in their box?” I asked, pointedly ignoring her comment about the tea.
Equally pointedly, she pushed the used tissues back down inside the sofa. I made a face.
I then made the tea.
As I stood in the kitchen waiting for it to brew, I found my thoughts wandering. All things in the world have their handles. Some handles are handles proper, made to be handles. Other things have makeshift or ad hoc handles, and were obvious as handles once you began to handle an object, like a pen or a book or anything without an obvious protuberance to use as a handle. The kettle had a handle: the least hot place as well as one to fit the hand conveniently. A teapot and teacup, too. But the packet of biscuits I was about to open had no obvious handle to grab, but grab it I did at one end. What about the water I had used to fill the kettle? How would I grab that, should I need to do so? I laughed at the prospect of grabbing the handle of water. The tap had a handle of sorts – one that moved and did a job, i.e. to make the water pour, but the water itself was not handleable, and even if it were, it would seep through the fingers however tightly you kept them together.
What about my thoughts themselves? There was an expression about ‘getting a handle' on things...
Armed with a tray – teapot, two cups and saucers, milk jug, sugar bowl, biscuits on plates, all balanced precariously upon it – I returned to the sitting-room.
I asked, without further delay: “Why were you stuffing snotty tissues down my sofa?”
Silence. Nobody on the sofa. Well, nobody on it. I saw something pink and suggestive stuffed down the side where my guest had been sitting.
I sat down with a sigh, at the other end of the sofa, listening to a stifled sneeze in the far corner of my consciousness. Absentmindedly, I picked up a crumbly digestive at one edge and bit into it as near to my fingers as it was possible to bite without threatening their integrity as fingers. I then poured out the amber infusion, with a delicious flowing sound. And picked it up by the delicate handle to take a sip.
“I am going to have another...” I said.
Silence. I looked plaintively at the crumbs in my lap and wondered if there ever could be a story with no handle at all.
Written today and first published above.