SMALL TALK

‘I MUST MAKE SMALL TALK’

Christine has written this on a post-it note and stuck it above the kettle. Each time I make a mug of tea, there it is and this morning it has survived yet another steaming.

It is her intention that I see it shortly before setting off for work acting as a prompt. She is convinced I use my shyness as an excuse to not talk and it is a habit that, with a little effort, I could begin to break.

It wouldn’t hurt you, she says, to be a bit more open, a bit more magnanimous, and I can’t argue with that. I certainly don’t want her to write on a post-it and stick it on the tile alongside the other. Trouble is, I haven’t had any practice and I am not very good at it.

I walk to the bus-stop and say the words out loud, MUST MAKE SMALL TALK, I MUST MAKE SMALL TALK. Drawing closer to the stop I chant more softly, the mantra losing its momentum until both I and it stutter to a halt.

I take my place at the end of the awkwardly formed line. No-one speaks, not ever, despite the fact we are forced together as a group almost every weekday morning. Oddly, I feel inspired and determined. Today I will make small talk.

And why not begin right here and now? I’ll make an announcement, say something witty, profound even. But what? In a minute or so the bus will arrive and I need to act quickly. I start chanting again, the words are still lodged crudely in my head.

MUST MAKE SMALL TALK, I MUST MAKE SMALL TALK.

The woman in front turns and stares at me and the others in the line are also peering around at me. I am talking aloud. I close my mouth, clenching it tightly shut and it stops. But I feel like an abandoned hose, violently thrashing, the water relentlessly escaping.

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4 thoughts on “SMALL TALK

  1. You got me from “Christine”, which is my second name 🙂 I personally love this one, you get sucked immediately into the person’s mind and it’s highly entertaining. I don’t know if it was on purpose but I saw humour in it, a very subtle one, from the mantra part and how people look at him like some sort of weird animal. And somehow we feel empathy and want to support the narrator, and this shows you did a great job with this one! Thumbs up!

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