"Can you get one of your drivers, Pete I think it is, to return my propelling-pencil. He's walked off with it."
It was the first time she had properly spoken to me in four years and I had been walking along the Esplanade close to the entrance of the Pier and on my way home after an early shift.
Her light auburn hair - now out of a bottle - was stylishly brushed across her face to render her a coy look. She had a few more wrinkles but her entrancing deep blue eyes, neat button nose and tight mouth with thin lips, oddly sensuous, still combined to make her a handsome woman at fifty. Her frame was slight and she was wearing a faded jean jacket. Her left arm hung loose, a roll up smouldering between her pale fingers. I knew she now owned and ran a drawing office-cum-stationers up the road.
"I'm a lesbian," she states flatly. "I have two girlfriends."
I say nothing, walk over and threw my arms around her.
She doesn't resist; rather, she wraps her right arm round me and holds me tight.
"I spent twelve years of my life trying to make you happy," I start to cry, "followed by four years of emptiness."
I laugh at the absurdity. I sob again at the tragedy, and watch a fallen tear darken a small area on the fabric of her jacket.
I should have guessed really: the lowered octave of her voice, the strong chin.
I let my arms fall away and then I kiss her on the cheek.
"Bye," she says.
She raises the nearly burned down roll-up to her lips, draws strongly causing it to glow momentarily brighter, and then tosses it to the asphalt before grinding it with her heel.
She smiles thinly, turns and makes her way back and up towards Union Street.
It's a nice day with the sun out in a clear blue sky. But it is kind of cold.