Monday, 28 March 2011



    As John put on his raincoat he felt overcome with a sense of deja vu. A sense that he had worn the same outfit on a similarly gray day; a sense that he had checked his watch with the same mindless deliberation; a sense that he had eaten his eggs and toast with the same pace, the same groggy body ache, the same morning thoughts. He felt — crazily, it seemed to him — orchestrated in a way by something greater than routine, but he could not say what.

    That day he met with Sarah at their usual cafe. They met to continue a long-established tradition the origins of which neither could recall. They spoke the same lines about their day, voiced the same complaints, doled out the same compliments. Sarah looked lovely; John, he wore a nice tie. John admired her indifferently and vaguely. He remembered maybe once falling in love with her but their meetings now were a matter of established ritual.

    They spent most of their meetings watching other people. Sometimes they appeared to engage with one another for the benefit of other people-watchers, but mostly they watched in silence. John noticed the same man in a blue blazer etching the same course along 3rd Street as the man had done before, and could not help but feel he had just yesterday seen the same woman in a niqāb who was now, like then, entering the post office.

    Thirty minutes into their meeting, after numerous starts and stops in conversation, John and Sarah heard a loud explosion. Everyone on the street stopped in their tracks and looked. A great shadow fell upon the city blocks. Some massive something lurched towards them. A woman screamed and people began to scamper as if they had some thought-out place to shelter. John looked at Sarah and said “I love you” as a matter of course. He knew something grim would happen to them and supposed they had been overtaken all along. So they continued talking out of habit, their words coming without thought, falling out with the buildings collapsing like so many dominoes.

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