The Scotsman

Frances Creighton: Found and Lost

- By Kirby Porter

Welcome to our regular feature showcasing the talents of the nation’s best writers.

There was no time for more than the briefest hello before you grabbed my hand and hurried me inside. Your hand felt soft and cool compared to the clammy mess mine must have been. The theatre lights were already dimmed and I was glad to submerge myself in the darkness. I thought I wouldn’t have to speak to you until the interval at least but even as we sat down you spoke to me. “Would you like an apple?” you whispered. An apple! What was I supposed to do with an apple? I couldn’t have eaten it. My mouth was dry and, besides, I would have made so much noise that one of the actors would have asked me either to shut up or leave. I pretended I hadn’t heard and kept my gaze resolutely forward.

“Would you like an apple?” you whispered again.

In a panic I said Yes even though I could as easily have said No. I heard you rummage in your bag, looked round nervously and comforted myself with the thought that I could save it for the interval.

“Here you are,” you said. “I’ve polished it up for you.”

I reached for the apple but you were holding nothing. For a moment I felt confused but your grip tightened on mine and you pulled my hand towards you until it was resting on your lap. I looked at you and you smiled up at me, daring me to pull my hand away. I didn’t. I moved my fingers until they were intertwine­d with yours.

“Oh,” I said, suddenly finding my balance. “I can’t eat that: it’s green. I’m allergic to green apples. I can eat red ones, though, if you’ve got one in there.”

The evening was not quite dark when we got outside after the play was over; an afterthoug­ht of light still lingered in the sky as though waiting for us to appear. We walked along the Stranmilli­s Embankment, waiting for darkness and the promise of a full moon. We walked slowly, in a rhythm, still holding hands. Night folded in on us. We sat down on a bench overlookin­g the river. Two swans were circling slowly in the water. I pointed out how they looked like holes left by the retreating day. And then I kissed you, tasting for the first time the smoothness of your lips – lips I had so often thought about kissing. It was a moment of total joy. I never thought I would be unhappy again.

About the author

Kirby Porter lives on the east coast of Scotland. He grew up in Belfast and studied Russian at Queen’s University Belfast and took further degrees at the University of London and the University of Wales. Frances Creighton: Found and Lost is published by Envelope Books, price £9.99

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