The smell of cologne comes on a burst of wind as the sun beats down and the gulls wing past overhead. I breathed this smell as a teenager in a pedestrian lane like this one: there had been a busker then, a cellist with a red velvet case that yawned wide and a hot pastry with apple soon after. The rays of the sun stream round me and my younger self rises up in a rush. The windows of the shops gleam with clear views onto chrome espresso machines and white-painted furniture as the glass reflects passersby. I slide along with the others and a long room looms inwards with figures at tables. Someone leans forward behind the glass, an arm’s length away. I lean in and a face rushes up to meet me, the burnt smell of coffee, the din of people talking. I sink back into myself and stir my coffee with a spoon; foam clings to the silver below the back of my hand, freckled brown and soft. Walkers move by in the background, quiet in the sun. The light shoots through the window. Someone looks in at me through the glass, hair ablaze in the halo of the afternoon. I bite into my apple Danish.

J. R. Fenn lives in southwest England and teaches English and Creative Writing at Plymouth University. J. R.’s fiction has appeared or will soon appear in Neon, PANK Magazine, The Other Room, and Short, Fast, and Deadly.

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