I arrived five minutes early and asked the librarian where the writing group was meeting. She pointed to a corner where two elderly people sat – one reading the newspaper, another with a large stack of books indicating fervent research. “It starts at six thirty – right – until eight?” I asked.
“Yes” she said.
Ten minutes passed. Not much was happening. The same two people still sat at the table. I asked again. “Oh, the group doesn’t usually turn up ‘til about seven” she told me.
I held her gaze, wondering why this information had been slow to materialise. “Are they part of the group?” I asked pointing at the corner.
“No, they’re in the wrong place. There should be a sign on that table to indicate that they have to move.”
“Oh, yes, I saw one, but it said something about a reading group.”
“That’s the wrong sign. I’m just making one now” she replied.
Half an hour and some huffily reluctant moving later, we sat, my fellow writers and I at the formica tables.
Jacintha, to my right took charge. “I’ll read some of mine later” she said heavily pink lipsticked lips smiling, indicating the novel at her fingertips, a picture of her on the back cover. ’Who wants to start? We won’t wait for Pierre, he’s usually late” she said indulgently.
The children’s book writer followed the ex lawyer. As she drew breath to read, a flurry of activity announced our French member’s arrival. Throwing his hat to one side, smoothing down thick white waved hair and tossing his overcoat over the back of a chair, his eyes immediately lit on me. “And you are?” he asked. I filled him in briefly.
Sabina continued with her tale of kids and screens. I listened hard, but every time I looked up discovered Pierre’s eyes locked on me. We’d hardly got to the moral at the end of the story when he interrupted. “You say your name is Saha? Tell me, do you know somezing about computers?”
“Um, not that much” I offered.
“I ‘ave a new router but I don’t know how eet works, do you sink you could ‘elp?”
I felt all eyes upon me.
I blushed, “I’m really not an expert, I think you’ll find if it’s new they’ll send an engineer to help set it up for you.”
Jacintha pushed back her chair noisily. Sweeping her hair to one side, she got up, navy velour pants and a low top sashayed towards the Frenchman. “Pierre, as promised, here’s a copy of my book. I’ve signed it for you” she said smiling.
“You are too kind” he said holding out his hand. “Zank you. Ah! You ‘ave such nice ‘andwriting!” he noted looking at the inscription.
She sat down again. My profile felt warm from the heat of her glare, serving to remind me how there’s always more to it than first meets the eye.