Tinsel on earth
They drank their coffees, and ordered more. A girl came with pastries on a trolley, and he asked her if she would have something.
‘No, thank you.’ He shook his head to the girl, and there was a pause. ‘What are you doing this evening, Martin?’
The question embarrassed him. ‘Nothing much.’
‘I have to see someone.’
‘Your old people?’
‘On a Saturday night?’
‘I generally do.’ He hesitated. ‘I think that’s when they feel most lonely.’
She stared at him. ‘Doesn’t everyone?’
He was confused; aware that something was being asked of him, fearful of it becoming a demand which he could not meet. With the ones he visited, it was different. The demands were simple, superficial – for food, physical aid, a listening ear. There was no involvement.
Silence had dropped between them again. He said, to break it:
‘What will you be doing?’
She stared at him, with a little smile, before replying.
‘I’ll have a bath, I suppose, wash my hair, do my mending. There are all sorts of things to keep one busy, aren’t there? But nothing like you, I’m afraid. No good works. Listen to music, perhaps. Tinsel on earth, instead of treasures in Heaven.’