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At the party, Griff said I looked pale, stressed. I’d have said “dead” was more fitting but I didn’t say it and on he went with that timeless gem: “Mate, don’t you think it’s time you and Tina, you know…”
Griff was a knob-end but a knob-end who made a wicked punch with more bottles lobbed in than most. He looked like the KFC bloke though his hair was jet black and not grey and he never ate chicken wings because he was a vegan.
“Look, Griff,” I think I probably began, and I was about to say that veganism and marriage are very similar in that they both sap the good stuff out of life and turn you into a boring bastard, but Tina came over and pulled my arm to the dance floor for some 80s hit and I must have flailed my arms convincingly because she seemed happy, though you could never tell with Tina. An angel at a party and on the way home a shit-tongued whore.
There was nothing natural about the night when we walked back. Like it was pretending to be day. Blues from neon office blocks for skies, streetlamp yellows parading as miniature suns.
I wasn’t sure whether Tina wanted my confirmation when she said, “And did you see what she was wearing? She looked so fucking cheap. Proper pound-stretcher cheap,” or just an ear to vent the shit bits of her evening, but there was a tramp in the tunnel under the ring road.
“Don’t you think?” she asked, and I grunted and she tutted and I tripped up and nearly made her trip too because her arm was hooked under mine.
“You know what it does to you babe,” she said and tutted again.
The tramp was in a sleeping bag and he had cats. I counted three and a water bowl and biscuits scattered on a Daily Mail. He had a sign that read Think about it and I pondered its effectiveness because his begging box was empty and when Tina whispered “Did you see how fucking dirty he was! What was it, porridge?” I went straight back and put a fiver in his begging box and with his porridge face he smiled, or perhaps he laughed – I’d have laughed – and then Tina wondered if I was alright coming out of the tunnel when my knees started to give way and holding her hand I slumped to the ground.
“Will you marry me?” I think I asked.
Katie Lodge is a British teacher/translator based in Lyon, France, where she lives with her two kids. She writes personal essays for Huffington Post UK and Litro Magazine, and is currently working on a short story collection on the themes of belief, rootlessness and the sublime mania of singlemumdom. She is also part of the Found Fiction adventure where stories are hidden in trees and other unexpected places.