Sunday, 19 June 2022

'Old friends' by Cath Barton


It was time she met up with her old friend Alison again, Monica thought. And there was a new café in town. Number Eleven, that’s what she thought it was called. Near the market, she thought.

Number Eleven, Market St. Usual time on Thursday, Monica wrote in a text to Alison. Eleven o’clock, ha ha. She tapped in a series of emojis and sent it off.

On the Thursday it started raining just as Monica stepped out of her house. The town hall clock was striking eleven as she turned into Market Street. There was no sign of her friend, who she assumed was already in Number Eleven, sheltering from the rain.

But there was no sign of any café in the street. She asked in the butchers if they could direct her to Number Eleven.          

‘Nah, lady, there ain’t no eleven in this street, never been a number eleven – numbers go straight from nine to thirteen. Dunno why. Just one of those things.’

‘Oh.’ Monica frowned. ‘But there’s supposed to be a new café called Number Eleven.’

 ‘What? Say again.’

 A noise from the back of the shop had drowned out what Monica had said.

‘Number Eleven.’ she shouted it this time.

‘Look lady, I told you, there ain’t no number eleven. Now excuse me but I’ve got customers to see to.’

Outside it was still raining heavily. Monica went into another café on another street, a place she’d often been to with her friend. She ordered a flat white and asked the proprietor if she’d seen Alison. The woman looked perturbed, sat down and patted Monica’s hand.

‘I thought your friend died last year, dear. I’m so sorry. How about a cake to go with your coffee? Cheer you up now. On the house.’

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