1920 19.20 CLARA

19.20 CLARA

Whenever Clara puts on music, she wonders why she so rarely does, and how she could possibly forget the pleasure of sound filling a room. Dvorak. Slavonic Dances. She whips the table cloth around like a bullfighter’s cape, snaps the heavy white linen out over the table, conducts with cutlery, wonders if Nur Osman will drink and allows herself a small scotch. The banging at the door can’t be him already, they agreed eight.

She thought living in a flat behind three lots of doors and all these buzzers and intercoms and stairs would stop cold callers. She prepares to give short shrift.

‘Yes? Oh, I am sorry.’

The girl, ’Pardon?’

‘I thought you … I am sorry, I was a bit abrupt.’


‘Shall we start again?


‘Come in, please come in.’

‘I only need some orange.’ The girl was not made up when Clara saw her this close in the library. There is a line of sweat on her lip. She smells of perfume and alcohol. ‘Orange juice. I have run out, I need some for a recipe.’

‘Oh, what are you making?’ Clara regrets moving so quickly to the fridge because the carton is already in her hand and the girl will be gone. But Lyn has crossed to the window.

Clara has a cold flush of panic. ‘Is one enough?’

But Lyn is looking not towards the windows of her own flat, resting her cheek against the glass she is looking out into the Square towards the new station site, down at her phone, back outside. ‘Yes, I only need a little.’

She doesn’t come to take the juice, Clara puts the carton on the table. ‘I’m expecting too. If you see what I mean.’


‘If this isn’t enough? I have plenty more.’

The girl turns and stumbles, steadies herself on the table, leans forward as she has suddenly discovered she carries huge weight.