1525 15.25 CLARA

15.25 CLARA

Clara screws up her eyes from the window glare of an empty shop, ‘Well nowadays I just potter about.’

‘Before this potting about.’

‘I’m retired.’

Mr Osman raises his eyebrow.

She uses the stock, ‘I was a civil servant.’

He smiles, waits.

He must be like this with his patients. Happy to wait until they reveal

‘In the Foreign Office.’

‘Your area of the world?’

Happy to wait, then persistent, the Somali doctor is probing, cutting away, she sidesteps him, ‘They moved us around, that was the policy.’

‘Ah, no good for knowledge of things.’

‘No.’ Reflected in window glare she sees the girl, turns and Lyn is a few yards away by the fountain. Why now? Why now!

‘It would not be good for my patients if one day I was an orthopaedic surgeon, the next a heart specialist.’

‘No, indeed not. Though maybe in some pla-‘

‘Yes, there were times back home when I was a Jack … a Jack …’

‘Of all trades.’ She knows she sounded short, ‘I’m sorry.’ She wants to be polite, she wants to follow the girl, this is ridiculous, she is struggling to breath, flushed.

‘Of all trades. Yes.’ He makes a gestures that brings to her mind the expression, pushing his cuffs.

Clara swallows and holds her chest. ’I can imagine what it must have been like. You really must hate people saying that.’ She sees a shadow pass behind his eyes and knows she has made a space in which she can extract herself.

But she decides not to.