Four blue chairs

A cafe in the sun, 2018

A cafe in the sun, 2018

Writing Prompt No. 109

Janet pulled out a chair from underneath the small table and sat down.

She scowled at the woman sat at a table opposite who was looking at her with curiosity. Janet opened up her bag and pulled out a bottle of perfume which she sprayed all around her before clipping the lid back on with a flourish. Out from her jacket pocket, she took a packet of anti-bacterial wipes. She peeled back the sticky cover and picked at a wipe until she could pull it out in full. She began to wipe the table down with some vigour. There was a stubborn mark where a splat of tomato ketchup had dried out in the sun. She scrubbed at it until it had gone. She looked around for a bin. Not one in sight. No problem. She’ll give it to whoever’s serving her table. She noticed her bottle of hand-sanitiser was almost empty. She made a mental note to add it to her shopping list.

The woman sat at the next table nudged her friend with her elbow. Janet could sense their conversation about her behaviour. She wasn’t going to get drawn in this time. The last time she did she ended up being arrested and charged with grievous bodily harm. Not her finest hour. Her mother didn’t speak to her for a year. No matter. People had to understand her needs and habits. It was everyone else that was the problem, not her. If everyone could take some time to understand that they needed to be cleaner, tidier, more considerate, she wouldn’t need to carry around a bag full of items to annihilate the bacteria in the air and on the ground.

I know, I know, she’d said to her mother, rolling her eyes. Bacteria is healthy. There are good and bad. Don’t kill the good with the bad. If only you could see what I see, she said. The world is crawling with them. Everywhere, over every surface. Then you’d understand.

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