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by Amanda Huggins

We were shown to the back of Le Jardin bistro, seated at a table listing to the left. You folded a ticket from the Pompidou, tried to wedge the unsteady leg, yet everything still slid around as though we were at sea, my knife clattering on the tiles, your napkin fluttering to the floor. We both said it didn’t matter, our smiles brittle as we ate overcooked sole and yesterday’s bread, sipped wine, a touch too acidic, not properly chilled. And as the silence deepened, we drank too much, too fast, ordered a second carafe, because it appeared it did matter after all.

We were listing too, and what would once have made us laugh had become something new, something heavy, something to which we never would confess. And I could see that when we parted at St Pancras you would hug me tighter than ever before. We’d both say what a lovely time we’d had, you’d rush off down the escalator to the Northern line, and by Belsize Park you would know how to tell me it was over.

Amanda Huggins lives in Yorkshire and is the author of the short story collection Separated From the Sea. She was awarded third prize in the 2018 Costa Short Story Award, and has been shortlisted and placed in numerous other competitions, including the Colm Toibin International Short Story Award and the Bath, Bridport and Fish flash fiction prizes. Amanda is also a keen travel writer, and was a finalist in the 2019 Bradt Guides New Travel Writer of the Year Award. Follow her on Twitter @troutiemcfish.