stared out the window. Through the rain-smeared glass the taxis and cars below were curiously deformed. Her delicate little fingers played absently with the frayed edge of the sofa as the sounds of the street filtered up to the flat.

When she first arrived in London, she had been electrified by the foreignness of everything. Cabs, policemen, cola bottles: all radiated an otherworldly familiarity which charged the smallest event with a heady newness. She felt grown up, traveling abroad at the age of seven. The world was huge. She was getting bigger.

At the moment, however, the world seemed as gray and unappealing as she would have ever imagined possible.

Her father entered the room, his recent haircut made him too seem fresh and different. At the very least younger. The check-out girl at the Sainsbury's around the corner had flirted with him earlier that morning, even though she too might have been his da ughter. It angered Leslie. The girl (who she supposed must be pretty) was saying, "I work round the corner at The Swan and Trumpet in the evenings. You come 'round, I'll buy you a pint of proper English Ale." (The whole ridiculous episode had started beca use he was buying, buried in the week's groceries, a bottle of Dutch beer).

Leslie interrupted, a bit too loudly, "Daddy!" She preferred Daddy to Dad, because it made her seem younger. "When is Mommy going to get here from France? I miss her."

"She'll be here in a few days, sweetheart. You know that."

The check-out girl was no less friendly, despite Leslie's efforts.

"Few days? Plenty of time to buy you that pint."

"You bet," he said. The import of her offer escaped him. He was just making good-natured small talk. Nothing more.

Leslie stuck her tongue out at the girl, who smiled maliciously in return.

The incident had colored her entire morning. Now she sat, sullen in the milky gray light, and stared half-heartedly at the street below.

"I'm going down to the post office. Do you want to come with me?"

"No. It's raining."

"Are you all right?"


"Miss your mom?"


"Well. I'm sure she'll be here very soon. Do you want anything while I'm out?"


"Okay. I'll be right back. Try to cheer up, okay?"


Leslie sat, washed in silence and street sounds. Why did she feel so bad? It wasn't just the check-out girl (they were always after him--she was getting used to it and taking the proper precautions), everything conspired to feed her melancholy.

What's the use? she thought as she got to her feet, determined to do a little exploring of the damp, Byzantine old apartment where they were staying.

1995 Hyperbole Studios Inc.