Why don’t you get a flat of your own then?
Sitting side by side we watched her making preparations. The silence which had fallen between us had something of deliberation in it; in a way a refusal of communication. Yet it had no awkwardness. There was as much ease in this interval as in a silence between friends, although there was no sense of friendship. We watched Lulu together. She got the gas lit and placed the kettle on it, spilling some water on the carpet. Then she swivelled round and looked up at us, kneeling.
She said: ‘I like doing this.’
Her face was flushed a little from her exertions, a faint recollection of youthful colour beneath the tired yellow of her skin. I could see a long way back to the lonely, rather backward child playing by herself with the doll’s tea-set, either during days when the rain whispered or gurgled or raged in sudden, pattering storm against the nursery windows, or on days when sound itself was drowned in summer’s silent ocean. She would have kneeled there on the carpet in just the position her body, remembering better, chose now. And already she was ugly, and her small domestic dreams self-stultifying.
Leslie said: ‘Why don’t you get a flat of your own then, where you could do your own cooking just as you liked?’
The smile disappeared from her face. She said frankly:
‘I should be lonely.’