Howard hissed in exasperation at the fly hovering above the dining table.
The napkin flicked at the unwelcome guest missed its target and caught the glass spilling red wine over the pristine white tablecloth.
The fragile stem snapped against the ivory handled knife, shards of glass glistened in the wine as the linen slowly turned to crimson.
Howard would have to start all over again, setting the table for one was an elaborate affair.
Sunday lunch was a ritual that was normally performed with a military precision.
Sundays were a day to be enjoyed, to be taken gently, the appearance of the unwanted fly interfered with the ceremony of table setting.
Howard always took his time, things had to be exact, the laying of cutlery had to be just so.
He always began by placing the small square mahogany table in the bay window which offered a view of the garden.
Once the table legs were lined up with the window frames he would take a starched white linen tablecloth from the dresser and holding the cloth at arms length he approached the table, six steps in all, counting as he went.
As he uttered six he carefully allowed the cloth to drop, the creases pressed to fall at the table edges.
He would then take four steps back and silently survey the table, very rarely would he have to adjust the material, the creases were always sharp and square.
He took pride in ironing the cloth which he always did on Friday evenings.
Nine squares in all covered the table, number one starting at the top left hand side.
One square draped to cover the legs half way, stopping exactly at the hinged table leafs. Twenty-five squares in total.
Once he was satisfied all was correct, a woven stainless steel mat was placed in the middle square, square five.
A heavy fluted crystal glass holding a single rose rested on top.
Moving down to square eight Howard placed another steel mat, on either side the gleaming ivory handled knife and fork lay in line with the creases.
With arms behind his back he slid four steps back allowing himself a smile of satisfaction as he gazed at the geometric pattern.
Next he placed a napkin rolled within a silver ring to the top of the steel place mat.
He would again retreat four steps back to view the table.
He always liked to set the table this way, it helped to pass the time, place an item on the table then stand back.
Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, slow, sliding steps, like a dance, a tea dance, only he had no one to dance with.
Howard was quite content with his own company now after all these years.
There was a time the table was set for two.
As he sat alone looking down towards the garden he heard the faint buzzing of a fly.
Reaching forward he carefully moved the wine glass to one side, and slowly removed the napkin from the silver ring.