Ian the British, Anna the Latvian

Lucinda Palme

Ian the British, Anna the Latvian

Gustav Adolf Square is lit. Many Gothenburgers have prepared for the Christmas and New Year, and some are preparing, and very few are expecting something to happen without submission to that fate or that destiny but fighting against fate and destiny.

Ian Derrick enters Espresso House by the Gustav Aolf Square, buys a café latte and carefully finds a seat for two in a corner overlooking the square. Anna Grabuste enters, finds the man she wants to meet, and takes her seat facing Ian. They exchange the introductory pleasantries without a hug and without a handshake. They knew some aspects about each other for they have exchanged some information of their lives online the cybersphere. As they talk, they assess the information they have passed on to one another except on family, as to how factual it is and how fake it is.

Anna confirms to herself that Ian is a smoothie.

Ian confirms to himself that Anna is sumptuousness.

In the middle of their real conversation, Anna notices the nasal hairs hanging out from the nostrils of Ian like aerial roots in a banyan tree. Ian observes Anna lifting repeatedly a side of her buttock to let the fart out. But the spirit in them to fight against that fate and that destiny drives them to cope the moment to put up with one another: let it happen, or not, whatever ‘it’ is.

Ian takes a sip, and says, ‘Don’t you want to buy anything?’

The word ‘buy’ heightens the annoyance of constipation in Anna, she says, ‘You no decency buy coffee for mig.’

‘I thought of it but—’

‘But what?’

‘If I ask that in the first place, she will say, I can pay for myself, if you do not ask, well—’

‘What well?’

‘I mean—’

‘How many shes you meet?’


‘Handful means one hundred and more what?’

‘Not literally, about a couple of girls.’

‘Girls?’ Anna asks. Ian the smoothie appeared to her, in face-to-face conversation, to be a man decent enough to be a grandfather and as a virgin bachelor and as reliable man, who has come to meet her with his office-going suitcase or nuggets-carrying briefcase. She feels thoughtfulness for him.

‘I put the age-range between twenty and fifty,’ Ian confesses his preference to find a girl or a woman on the find-a-partner dating site. He asks, ‘What about you?’

‘I care not, try anyone from thirty to seventy,’ Anna says, honestly, and she laughs. Anna the sumptuousness looks like the full moon in the sky. Her laughter shows the absence of a tooth in the right upper jaw.

Ian takes a sip, and asks, ‘Any plans for Christmas?’

‘Do you have a family?’ Anna asks.

Ian Derrick moved to Sweden to live with a Swedish woman he had met in Thailand but she exited from his life when Britain exited from the European Union. The pull to go back to his home country is no more there and there is no one left for him except for a brother. He has three children with his former wife and this year they will spend the Christmas with the mother: every alternative year with a parent until the children decide to choose.

‘Yes, I have children, but—’

‘But what?’

‘Divorced, I didn’t want it but—’

‘You divorced. What there but? Nothing, see future,’ Anna says feeling a sprig of empathy springing in her for him.

‘What about you?’

Anna Grabuste left Latvia when Latvia gained union with the European Union. She escaped from her alcoholic and abusive husband but at the expense of a secure life. She found the freedom in Europe and with the freedom she endured the indignities of survival for life that an eastern European encounters and experiences in western Europe. ‘Parents in Latvia, may go or not go,’ Anna says.

Ian gathers the hint of stoicism in her. Anna the sumptuousness appears to him like the sun in the dawn, in face-to-face conversation, to be a woman past her prime but as a bankable woman, who has come to meet him with her counterfeit Dolce Gabbana handbag. He feels thankfulness for her.

‘Yeah,’ Ian says, ‘we have to move on.’

Conversation pauses.

They think, fleetingly. Eye-contact, re-establishes. They look into each other’s eyes, deeply.

Ian touches her hand, he feels her ring(-ed) finger. Anna places her hand into his hand, she sees the mark of a ring in his ring finger without that ring.

Gustav Adolf Square is lit.

—Lucinda Palme