I watch her every day. She strides by the window where I work at 8.45 just as I begin to process the daily orders. 10 hammers, a chainsaw and a few hundred nails; strimmer hire for two days; enough paint for a two storey three bed semi-d.

She is oblivious and I can’t forget her.

When we were teens she was beautiful in a strange way, pale and simple. I had a girlfriend, badly dyed hair and orange and thin, so very thin. I didn’t even fancy her but we all had a similar one on our arm. I don’t even remember her name. 

I remember Julie perfectly. She was a friend of a friend. Someone’s neighbour out for birthday drinks. I didn’t pass much remark on her at first. She was average height, thin enough, pale, long auburn hair. She was wearing jeans that were slightly flared, boot cut I think she told me, and a funny top. It was fluorescent green with a red apple onthe front, and loose. One of the first things she told me was how she loved green.

She walked over and scabbed a cigarette, I lit it for her the way everyone did back then. We chatted at first and then talked, really talked. She asked questions and listened and then asked more. She wanted to be a dancer but would probably end up an architect instead.  Laughing she told me how she knew it was funny. Had I laughed at her? Could I have?

I don’t remember what I was like then. I was part of the collective. Us lads had the same everything, girl, clothes, job, ambitions or lack of. When she asked me what I really wanted to be I was so shocked I said the first thing that came into my mind. She stopped laughing and looked at me, proper looked at me. Did I really want to be a nurse?

It was getting late and we’d smoked almost the whole pack. The night was beginning to finish up. She lightly placed her hand on my chest and before I knew it my hands were on her waist. We kissed. I’d never kissed anyone like that before, someone I knew.

The place was emptying out so we sat down, our knees touching. We kissed some more.

“I’ll be back in a sec, toilet.”

I held her hand until she had to pull it free, walking backwards and smiling, laughing. She turned towards the door and the lads came back in as she left.

Joey leered at her and waddled over.

“State of that weirdo!”

And before I knew it I replied,

“I know.”

I grabbed my coat and followed the lads out the back gate onto the alley.