Wednesday 5 April 2001
Actually, his name was Stuart Hall. But he called himself Peplerhus, on the message boards he frequented. His hands were very pale, with reddened knuckles, and a lump on left side of his middle finger from clutching a pen. He curved his fingers over the keys like a six-year-old at its first piano lesson and would often rub his eyes under his specs with index finger and thumb, pushing his glasses up to the centre of his forehead. They would unhook from behind his ear and end up askew; sometimes they fell onto his desk. In the space of fifty words he could cite Cassavetes, Lizzie Siddal, Japanese swordsmanship, his bellend, the meaning of tartan, and the taste of snow. He was 55, and weighed 200 pounds.
She had always thought that when she was old she would care. But she didn't 'give two shits', she declared to herself, peering into the mirror at her face. It was pink. She smiled. She turned to the left. That, she decided, halfmooning a fingernail into a furrow at the side of her mouth, was where the wrinkles would be. She noticed that the bottom of the her bag was getting wet where she'd slung it in the sink. She pulled out her make-up bag; red, vinyl, puffy; it fastened with a snap. She opened and closed it a few times. She thought of Peplerhus. She'd email him after lunch: it was her treat. She bribed herself with it, turning phrases over in her head; every hour finding a new meaning, new possibilites, fresh references to impress him with. She grabbed a tube from the red purse, took the lid off, twisted the bottom till a nubbin of orange appeared, peeping forth from its housing like the bellend of an uncut man. The thought made her grimace. She daubed the stick under her eyes, round the sides of her nose, dotting it on her chin, then rubbed it in with her middle and ring finger. She washed her hands in the next sink. The paper towels were beige as pastry. Ten minutes till lunch.
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