Instinctively, Brian knew, just by looking at her, that she was the kind of girl whom other women might find annoying, or of whom they might be jealous. Floaty, wispy, ethereal, insubstantial, lost in daydreams, with very long flowing brown hair that none but other women would want to see scraped back tightly and tied up. Huge brown heavy-lidded eyes that a man could easily imagine gazing up at him soulfully during the act of love, and flawless honey-coloured skin, like a peach that has never been touched.

She would be called Anita, Brian decided, staring at her as openly as he dared from over the top of the coffee-shop menu (cakes, scones, different fancy teas and coffees, etc.), or Eliza, maybe. Yes, that was it. Eliza Spenlow.

Like a character from a Jane Austen novel, he thought, pleased with himself. Brian was not the kind of man to avoid Jane Austen because she was a woman and wrote women’s books; Brian was an equal opportunities reader, and he loved the television adaptations of Miss Austen’s books. All those low necklines, high waistlines and heaving bosoms.

But back to Anita, or Eliza Spenlow. She was dressed in a sort of loose-fitting, off-white crocheted top with an ankle-length skirt patterned in flowers. Around her white, graceful swan-like neck she wore a long string of coloured beads, probably glass, and on her dainty little feet a pair of pink sandals with cork heels.

A wide-brimmed straw hat, of the kind that Brian thought might be commonly called ‘cartwheel,’ with a pale pink satin ribbon round the brim, hung from the back of her chair.

Everyone in the coffee-shop had watched her take it off when she’d entered the place and shake out her long brown hair, which had shimmered and shimmied behind her like a waterfall.

Not an altogether necessary action, Brian had chucklingly noted, as she had nothing so mundane as ‘hat hair,’ but an action performed purely for show. Who could object, however, when she was a creature of such enchanting beauty?

Brian, who fell in love about once a month with the regularity of clockwork, surrendered his heart completely. He tried to catch her eye and flash her a grin as her eyes swept the coffee-shop for points of interest, but her gaze skated coldly over him and away.

He watched her curiously as she bent her lovely head to her table and concentrated hard on the words she was putting down in a sheet of paper in her notebook. Her pen was a good one, Brian could tell, and her notebook was hardbacked and also of good quality.

She scribbled furiously away and seemed lost in thought, not even looking up when the waiter, a good-looking young man who eyed her up appreciatively, set her order, a cappuccino, down on the table beside her.

What was she writing with such intensity, wondered Brian, what beautiful lyrical words were flowing from her pen onto the quality lined notepaper?

Poetry, he decided. It had to be. A poem about clouds, perhaps, the white fluffy cirrussy ones that dotted today’s otherwise perfectly unbroken blue sky, or about the beauty in general of a summer’s day, like the one they were currently enjoying? Yes, she had the look of a poetess all right.

Brian was pleased with his own astuteness. He wondered if she attended a creative writing class such as the one he taught at night in the college, and if there was any way he could let her know about it without coming across too much like the married overweight sleazebag women normally judged him immediately (and correctly) to be.

To Brian’s disappointment, the woman he now thought of as Eliza Spenlow- his Eliza Spenlow- stood up suddenly, without, as far as Brian had seen, having taken so much as a sip of the cappuccino she’d ordered and paid for at the counter.

She gathered up her notebook and pen and dropped them into the straw bag she’d been carrying when she entered. She put on the cartwheel-brimmed hat with the pale pink satin ribbon round the brim and a pair of mirrored sunglasses that had been in the bag, and swept from the coffee-shop without a glance to the right or the left of her. A single loose sheet of paper, dislodged from her notebook, floated to the ground under the seat she’d vacated.

Brian leaped on it, beating the waiter to it, much to his satisfaction, even though he was at least thirty years older and many pounds heavier than the younger man. He grinned at the crestfallen waiter and quickly grabbed his briefcase and sunglasses, before hurrying out the door to see if he could catch her. He nearly called out the name ‘Eliza!’ after her departing form.

To his annoyance, he got his jacket caught in the door of the coffee-shop. By the time he’d freed himself, there was no sign of her either up the street or down. Brian clicked his tongue in irritation. Damn and blast it, anyway! What a wonderful night of passion they could have had together, he was sure.

Well, he could read what she’d written, at any rate, even if a busy street was possibly a less fitting place to read her lovely fragrant words than, say, beside a fountain in a castle courtyard or in a rose garden.

He put the sheet of notepaper to his nose and breathed in its smell. To his disappointment, there was no perfume emanating from the lined paper. Oh well. His heartbeat racing with anticipation, he began to read.

As he read, his fat face reddened and his eyes began to bulge and pop the way they did when he was disturbed. His breath came fast between his fleshy parted lips and his bulbous nose purpled with rage.

‘The bloody bitch!’ he spluttered. How dared she? How did she know? Who told her? Who was she anyway, this little jumped-up airy-fairy strumpet he’d never seen in his life before today, to be spreading poison like that about him?

The police had dropped all charges. The Jarvis woman had been confusing rape with a bit of slap-and-tickle between friends. Even the Guards had been able to see that, in the end, although it had been touch and go there for a while.

He looked round him desperately for a bin. Finding one just a few steps up the street a bit, he hurried to it and thrust the piece of paper into its gaping maw with as much urgency as if it had been burning him. Then, mopping at his sweating face with a hanky, he walked away, taking great care to appear casual and unperturbed, just in case anyone was watching.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

In her capacity as a performance poet, she has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.

Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home. In 2003, she was invited to be a guest on Niall Boylan’s 98FM late-night radio talk show purely on the basis of having a ‘sexy voice.’

She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact Sandra at:

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