Chapter II by Nathan Roberts

“It’s making me cringe, so it’s making me think of other things that make me cringe and that’s just making me feel really, really awkward,” Daniel had leant toward and spoke over the repulsively beige music directly into Billy’s ear. “I get that sometimes,” Billy said.

Daniel turned back to the stage, peering from their seat through the legs of the mobilised crowd. A projector had the words CHAPTER II emblazoned across the raised platform, malevolently manipulated by the looming figure that stood at the microphone. A live performance dynamically staged and divided into acts. Hilarious on one level but also empathetically embarrassing, causing his thoughts to once more drift into an ether of self-conscious memories.

He’d tried to avoid it happening as much as possible, shifted his body, ducked and dodged between the people who crossed the street in the opposite direction as the light turned green. Now she definitely wasn’t looking; he saw her gaze wander. Then she turned towards him, in the centre of the road, the worst possible moment. Nose met shoulder. It was slight and fleeting contact that wouldn’t produce anything in him, but he turned, looked sympathetically, a mistake. The sight of this woman, rubbing at her nose, visibly annoyed, hurt even, was farcical.

To ignore and continue on would have probably been the better course of action. A shake of the head, disbelief, followed. Then came Daniel’s laugh, introspective at first before it opened, hearty. He composed a short and effective tweet that quickly came together:
A woman just walked into me. Oh my god. Her nose went right into my shoulder. Tragi-comedy.
That, one recipient, whom he hoped would appreciate the humour of the situation, had found it quite strange, was slightly disappointing and made him question whether he hadn't gauged their relationship entirely wrong.

It crossed his mind, was evident in the rage he had brought forth, that this poor old woman would be talking about, thinking about this collision for days. It could not be helped; it had happened and could not be retracted, and the appearance of sympathy, however brief, was better than nothing, surely. The collision had lead to collusion: Daniel had even mouthed sorry in her direction as she shook her head, held her nose, a continuous loop played over, a GIF for the brain.

Nathan Roberts is a recent Kingston University English Literature & Creative Writing graduate and currently works part-time as a Scout for independent record label XL Recordings. He has previously written about music for Rockfeedback and Bonafide. He tweets @horrorshowtunez.