1950 19.50 CLARA

19.50 CLARA

Clara passes Lyn another kitchen towel. The girl’s a mess of snot and make up and hair and wracks of sobs, trying to speak but her mouth stays open stuck, will not shape words, blonde strands plastered to her lips.

Clara takes the girl by her shoulders and, just for a second, imagines pulling her close to nestle between her breasts, warm and damp and shuddering with whatever this grief. She looks over the girls head to the window, can’t help glancing at her watch, wishes she could say, It’s alright, it’s alright, I have all the time in the world. All the time. Tell me when you are ready. You will tell me when you are ready.

But the Osmans are due.

‘Stay, stay as long as you like, I just have to tell you, people are coming at eight, ten minutes.’

The girl sits bolt upright. ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry.’

‘Join us.’

‘I must go.’

Clara hands her another piece of kitchen roll.

‘Thank you. I have to go.’

‘Let’s get you freshened up.’