Note to Self
An urban story
Memory being what it was, she was always forgetting things: where she put the hair brush; the window measurements for the blinds; the last time she weighed 10 stone. Hence the ‘notes to self’ grew longer and longer. Time evaporated. The cycle continued.
A glimpse of summer sunshine had inspired a visit to the £7 hand carwash in Wembley Park. One thing to tick off the To Do list. Now with car gleaming, windows down and sunroof open, the urge to sing along to "A little bit of Love" was too great. Her errands had taken her to Ladbroke Grove, enroute to High Street Ken. For the time of day the road was unusually clear, and with 25 mph feeling like a 100mph, she pushed the new Gucci sunglasses closer to your brow and her foot further to floor and sang "I met a man today, who cannot change his life". She had forgotten to indicate at the Barlby Road roundabout but where the black Audi TT came from was a mystery. The reflex emergency braking still left her skidding into an intimate encounter with this car, whose insurance was more than the total value of her little jelopy.
Before she could focus enough to turn the radio down, he was in front of her, tugging at the car door handle. Instinctively she rushed her hand to the central locking, although she always locked the door before putting on her seatbelt. “The action of his ways is paved with so much strife”. He had jumped out of the driver seat and over to her car with such vigour, she was convinced he was about to haul her from the vehicle and shake the blame out of her then and there.
The damn power windows refused to respond to her desperate attempts to close them and protect herself. When she felt his hand on her wrist her other instinct for self defence at all costs, made her thump him repeatedly with her heavy "I'm a single girl, buy my own fake diamonds" ring. It was only when she heard him say "Well she's alright then", that she realised he had come to make sure she wasn't hurt.
Looking up, tentatively, at the man now rubbing the diamond indented spot on the back of his hand, she saw his concern, his jet black brow, jealously bold against his chocolate completion; his soft angled jaw; the fleshy pink lips a jewel in the crown of his neat goatee framed mouth... mmmm, his just enough buff chest.
New instincts kicked in: damsel in distress. “So what you’re thinking of, should maybe start today”
She unlocked the door and allowed him to open it for her. Happily today was a day that she had made an effort. The hair was still fresh from last nights four hour perfect grooming stint at Michael’s Style salon in Willesden. The deep blue denim jeans hugged and loved in the right places. Her blue-black silk waist-length khaftan concealed the ripple effect of the belly, while revealing the magnetic effect of the cleavage. The bell sleeves exposed the smooth flesh of her arms, accented with a chunky onck bangle. Make up! Thank God for rear occasions. Today it was applied and appropriate.
Now all that remained for her to apply was a charming demean a. Veiled in a mildly apologetic, subtly accusatory tone, of course. Heck this was live bait after all. “A little bit of love, can go a long, long way”
"Are you alright?" he asked.
She touched her neck delicately, leaning her head to one side then the other. This had dual purpose: (a) to prolong the conversation with the fine looking brother (b) where's the blame, there's a claim. And as her insurance would most certainly not cover this collison, she would have to find another way of upgrading to the ’08 Fiesta. Cup is always half full.
“I think so. Think I just... the seatbelt might have, you know, forced my neck back suddenly. Sorry. About your hand. I…”.
She felt him staring at her intensely. It wasn’t just concern. He was making the most of this opportunity too. His half smile and dancing eyes had already memorised her features, her neckline, her iridescent brown skin. She knew the signs. “Look not sure who was in the wrong here. But your car seems to be little more dented than mine.” He diverted his attention to the kissing cars. The bumper had a fist-sized dent in it, with black marks causing painful scarring to the yellow colour-coding.
Following his gaze to the offending ding, she stood back as he took a few steps closer to examine the damage. She examined the damage. Six foot two, broad and toned, without the off-putting six-days-a-week-in-the-gym-obtaining-muscle-definition. Clearly the man worked, not just worked-out. Nice shelf bottom too. Note to self: re-instate Cannons membership.
“Is it bad? Should we exchange details? Never had an accident before, so not entirely sure of the procedure. Do we need to report it to the police or something?” Her mind raced as she tried to find ways of creating dialogue. Wit was escaping her. The usual defence of dry sarcasm was dripping in this ditzy armour.
He smiled. Adding to her confusion. She smiled back. Holding his gaze. He held on too and with a gentle deep chuckle, he lowered his head. Reaching into his back pocket to pull his wallet out, he said “Let me give you my card. We can settle this between us. No need for insurance. Cost to repair will be less than the increase in the premium”.
No insurance. Damn. Hood-rat! “Well, as long as you’re a man of your word. How do I know you won’t just disappear?” She took his business card. James Braithwait. Chartered Surveyor. She managed to stifle her look of relief and approval, while mentally she was doing a celebratory dance, wining her waist and circling her arms infront of her chest, while chanting ‘He is a fit man, with a good job, nah, nah, nah, nah-nah’.
She tried on the last name as though trying on this season’s jacket in a Karen Millen shop. No changing room required, nothing to remove. Just slip it on over current attire. Alison Grey-Braithwaite. Yes, I do!
Time to up the ante.
Turning to her car, she leaned in through the opened car door, bending over the drivers seat to retrieve her soft tan Mui Mui handbag. She kept her back to him a moment longer, to ensure he had captured a full length vision of her all woman Caribbean asset, featured in her jeans. Turning suddenly, she was pleased with her efforts, as he was duly staring directly at her. She handed him her card. “My other mobile number is on the back, in case my blackberry is off.” She offered.
“Thanks. Look, sorry for this. Although I’m not totally to blame, you know, but I will fix it. Maybe we can meet up tomorrow and I’ll take you to my mechanic for an assessment.”
“Need your mechanic to assess me too, huh?” Game on! Without laughing he said “Call me later and we can make the necessary arrangements, yeah?” Not biting the bait. Strange.
“OK. Well I’ll have to make a note of your license plate number, just to be on the safe side. You understand that right?” she asked, while walking around to examine the front grill of his car. She looked down at his license plate. Private number. JB 24 7. With a side smile she glanced up to look at him and from the corner of her eye she noticed someone in the passenger seat for the first time.
Taking a closer look, she saw her. Long, thick blonde hair, creamy-skinned, thin, shimmering glossed lip and a beauty-spot just below her nose. Open-necked, white fitted shirt, with an oversized silver necklace. Indisputably stunning. Her smile curved up at the corners of mouth, with a look of knowing certainty that there was no contest. She smiled back, relinquishing her quest to conquer.
When she looked backed at him, he felt change in the tone of her gaze. Yet her disappointment in him and disapproval of his passenger, coupled with an all too familiar tinge of defeat, went unchallenged. Either he was used to it, or mistook it for jealousy. Either way he kept smiling as he walked to his car door. “Call me, ok?”
She smiled weakly then returned to her car. Kissing her teeth she wondered how she could forget the most basic of instincts when flirting with a stranger. Note to self: make sure the roundabout is clear before speeding in.