Number 103

Behind the beach huts on Shoreham beach, UK © Tanya Clarke 2009

Behind the beach huts on Shoreham beach, UK © Tanya Clarke 2009

Writing Prompt No. 32

The year 1980. The number 103. One hundred and three.

It meant something. Nobody knew what though. Derek thumbed through the telephone directory looking for something, a clue. The paper smelled old and musty, the paper thin and yellow.

“I don’t know. I can’t find anything, anything that would help us,” he said.

Jean crinkled her nose and rubbed her forehead with the pencil she was holding.

“Okay. There’s no way we’ll find anything here. We’ll be here forever.” She leaned back against the phone box tapping the small metal shelf with her fingernails. “It must be a phone number. She wrote it down. I watched her.”

Derek frowned the lines burrowed into the muscles in his forehead. “You got any change?” he said.

Jean reached her hand into her jacket pocket pulling out three ten pence pieces and a fifty pence.

"These. Might get us a few minutes."

Derek flicked a cigarette out from the packet and flipped it at his mouth. He missed and it fell to the floor.

"Good one," Jean said a crooked smile reaching across her face, "You're so cool."

"You being sarcastic? Bitch." Derek mumbled his words as he reached down to pick up the cigarette. The phone box smelled like rain. The weather had changed. The panes of glass in the door were broken. "Careful," he said pointing, "That glass's sharp there."

Jean turned her head to look behind her. "Bloody rain. Always raining. What shall we do now?" she said. She touched a broken glass shard with the tip of her finger. The point pierced the skin just where the flesh met the nail. A tiny dot of blood bubbled. She paused before licking it with the tip of her tongue.

"Jean?" said Derek, "What the hell? You're so weird."

"No weirder than you. Come on. Let's get going."

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