Rachel stands at the window, looking out. She munches widely, jowls giving way and crunching back in, folding in on the half-wet biscuit matter between her teeth. Compressing. She watches the nothing; the driveway of the multi-storey car park next opposite her side-street window. There had been a noise, a siren or a brief wail or something, demanding her inspection.
Her laugh is part guttural windedness, part disapproving groan. But it is a laugh. It trickles out and down when things aren’t funny to me, but seemingly awkward, not satisfactory. I avoid the collective gaze of the room. I glance up sometimes to smile at her simply because she has continued to laugh. Infectious.
We all enjoy the treats. The cultural microcosm of cakes and sugar gathered on snatched trips outside; on holidays, lunch breaks and weekends. We all reach, sometimes self-consciously, for the red box with but one finger-aiding opening dent. We smile at ourselves (but for the benefit and audience of each other) as we give in to the game, accept the exposure of our weakness – once one has started, we can all play.
Rachel reaches without qualm, without hesitation. She raises her eyebrows, she inspects the contents of the box, she carefully selects her prize. We all find something in that box, but we know in our hearts that they are all really Rachel’s biscuits.
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