he was made of alnico

They walked together in step, passing several shop fronts before they spoke. Myra was the first to turn and look, almost spooking at Leroy when he smiled down at her. The rhythm of their footsteps was the most intimate contact she had shared with a man for almost a year. She looked away, blushing, but was immediately confronted with their reflection in the new charity shop beside the haberdashery. She looked away. Ahead. Staring down the market. Then he spoke. Lovely day, hey. Yes, she wanted to say, yes. But her breath was so tight, the word became trapped in her throat, so she nodded instead. Which way you going? he asked. Myra still hadn’t recovered. She pointed westerly with a finger. Good! said Leroy. We can stick together to the bottom. Myra searched the shops, looking for an escape. She didn’t know how to respond to the situation — their arms swinging together, their feet falling and rising in precise unison, their bodies bouncing and bobbing. She’d only been with one man in all her 48 years, and he’d told her what she was supposed to do and when, and she’d never enjoyed it much. Now, she felt unable even to walk beside this man without his help. She wished he’d take her by the hand, but where her fingers might curl into his was a can of Tennent’s. She watched him taking a swig every few strides, flinging his head back, braids swinging, tipping the lager over his tongue. As they strode past Argos she could see her turning coming up and wondered if she might take the longer route home. It’s a good street, isn’t it, when the sun shines? Leroy looked down at her, surprised by the depth of her voice and the sudden smile on her face. He wanted to encourage her. It is, yes, it is, a very good street. He felt ashamed by how attractive he found her. She looked the same age as his neighbour, who was a grandmother. He held out the Tennent’s to Myra, encouraging her with his eyebrows and a twitch in his lips. Go on, have some. She took the can and then stopped, abruptly, in the middle of the pavement. Then she raised it to her lips and took several gulps. Leroy chuckled. I turn off here, said Myra, I live up there. Very nice walking with you lady, he replied. You’ve got a mighty fine stride on you. Myra tried to thank him but the words had got jammed again. She turned the corner, crossing the Lidl’s car park, fighting back the tears. This was the most intensely joyous moment in her entire life. 

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