Words || Katelyn Free
I didn’t even notice the duck nest at first. Gleaming black feathers with flashes of white on their beaks, the ducks dipped and dived around at the crown of branches hovering near the edge of the lake. Their movements sent ripples out across the water, spreading wider and wider, then fading, only to be interrupted by new waves, crossing and clashing on the sapphire surface.
Flickers of coffee orders being taken and early morning chatter filter onto the lake from the café. My oat milk flat white seeps warmth into my fingertips. They didn’t have soy milk. The fuckers.
A man dressed entirely in black active wear sits down next to me. Skivvy, shorts and full leggings, he’s covered head to toe in Under Armour.
Staring back down at my book, I can sense the impending ice breaker comment. I don’t want to talk with him. I’m a weird mix of jetlagged and hungover and just want to drink my substandard coffee in peace. I don’t want to have to ruin my morning by giving out a fake number because I’m too non-confrontational to give a harsh rejection pre-11am.
But still, it’s almost tantalising as I wait to hear what he will come up with.
Maybe he’ll compliment my hair, or my freshly done lash extensions.
Maybe he’ll go for a lame request for my review of the avocado toast.
Maybe he’ll ask an insightful question about the book I’m reading and ask for my number to go for a drink and I’ll give it to him, only to see his message pop up on WhatsApp and not respond because it gives me a twisted sense of power.
Maybe he’ll suggest going for a walk around the nearby park then murder me and hide my body in a bush and my untimely death can end up as an episode on Case File.
Maybe he’ll complain about the lack of soy milk options and we can fall in love and drink alternative milk options for the rest of our days, living in a flat in East London and not reproducing for environmental reasons.
Maybe he’ll ask to go for lunch and reveal that he’s actually a member of the aristocracy. He’s set to inherent $4 million and his parents provide him with a steady income from the family trust account. They have a holiday house in Santorini. I’ll trick him into a marriage with a poorly drafted prenuptial agreement then divorce him after 5 years when the sunset clause takes effect and buy a house in the south of France and lie on the beach drinking rosé for the rest of my days.
“So peaceful for London isn’t it?”
He looks at me expectantly.
I look down. He’s wearing gym branded activewear.
He’s a personal trainer.