London Girl

There is a girl standing in the street. There is a dog with her. It is evening.
Now the girl is in a room, speaking on a phone. She is alone and whispers, Yes, yes, yes, of course I will, I promise.
Now there is a party, not a wild party, a sober party. The girl is sitting in an armchair. An old woman strokes her hand. The girl looks sad, lonely.
Her loneliness touches me. I want to make her happy. I will buy her a present.
In a shop I ask, Do you have a present for a lonely sad girl?
The shopkeeper says, Do you mean the girl who stands in the street with a dog on a lead?
Yes, I say, that’s her, she wears a green dress.
Sometimes she wears a red dress, says the man.
Really, I say, I didn’t know that.
Once she wore a purple dress, says an assistant.
What would you like to buy her? asks the man.
I was thinking perhaps a motorbike.
Good idea, he says, I’m sure she’d love a motorbike. Unfortunately we don’t have one. We have a spare tyre.
Is that for a motorbike or a car?
A car, but if the motorbike used car wheels it would do for a bike of that sort.
What else do you have? I asked.
We have a comedienne.
Is she funny?
Well, she’s half price. What do you think?
A pen, says the assistant, we have a pen that will dance to music and write a poem.
That sounds excellent. I’ll take it.
I paid for the pen. It wasn’t expensive. I went back to the house, but the house had gone. The girl sat on a tree trunk. Obviously at one time it had been a beautiful tree but someone had cut it down in its prime. I’ll bet it was a banker, with no consideration for the world and profit their only motive for living.
The girl looked sad, perhaps she was crying. I went over to her.
I bought you a pen, I said
She took it from my hand and looked at it.
I can’t write, she said.
It dances, I said, put it on the ground and it will dance.
She put the pen on the ground which I noticed was black and burnt as if scorched by Vesuvius.
It doesn’t do anything, she said.
The pen just lay on the burnt ground.
I said, It needs music.
She whistled and snapped her fingers. I clapped my hands. The pen didn’t move.
I took the pen back to the shop and said, It doesn’t dance.
What music did you play for it, asked the man.
A London jig, I said.
No no no, the only music the pen likes is this, and he played the same music he played before and the pen danced. The music came from a music box and the pen danced round the box.
How much is the music box? I asked
He said a price too high. I couldn’t afford the box, but I thought if I can delay him long enough to memorise the music I can whistle the tune and the girl will see the pen dance and be happy. So I hummed and harred and said, Maybe I’ll buy it, maybe I won’t, while I memorised the music, and then I said, I’ll think about it, and left the shop.
When I got back the girl had gone, but the tree trunk remained. I sat on the corpse of the tree, put the pen on the ground, and whistled. The pen danced, but it was a sad dance, and it didn’t write a poem.

Samantha Memi

About Samantha Memi

Samantha Memi is the author of the chapbook Kate Moss & Other Heroines and the story collection All in letters bound in string.

Samantha Memi is the author of the chapbook Kate Moss & Other Heroines and the story collection All in letters bound in string.

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