Across Continents

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A simple life

As I entered an old man limped slowly past me, towards the toilet. I held open the door for him, not wishing to impede his progress, but it was already too late. Inside, the woman behind the counter shrugged, then disappeared briefly to fetch a mop and bucket. I found a table in the corner and waited for her to finish cleaning up. The television took centre stage against one wall of the cafe come bar. The folk dancing channel. Loud, intrusive but not oppressive. Above the counter, pin-ups. Big hair and leg-warmers. A little colour in an otherwise drab hall, save for the curtains. They’d once been red.

Cleaning complete, I ordered a coffee. It was instant, but made with water heated on the hot plate of a coffee percolator. I was now the only customer. The woman from behind the counter busied herself, clearing tables of empty plastic cups, wiping down the tops. She looked at me briefly, smiled, and carried on. My drink finished, I decided to find the village shop. I nodded to the woman and left.

Goats

Like the bar I’d just left, the shop was fairly spartan. A few basics. After the obligatory purchases I headed back across the village square. Another shop, next to the bar, closed. I’d missed it earlier. Its shelves looked equally devoid of all but the essentials. There was an old wooden bench outside. I sat down for a while in the warm winter sun. A few dogs barking. An old lady wandered into the bar I’d left earlier. Goats, the herds woman following up slowly behind. A simple life.

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