His grubby fingernail scratched down the page.
He uttered in a sneering, precise patronising tone and snapped the dusty book shut.
I thought, listen to me you piece of crap, I'm tired, hungry, I have travelled far to be here today.
I wanted to lean over the desk and slap him hard, take the book from him, read it for myself with care and respect.
'There’s a map on the wall...' he nodded dismissively at a peeling square of chip board.
'Plot 3287...is three rows left, two right, eight down, seven...is beside the wall...near the bridge...fifteen, twenty minutes walk... here, you better have a map in case you get lost...!' he added with a sly smile as I left the dingy office.
A copy of a thousand copies, a smudged arrow indicating
'YOU ARE HERE' barely discernable.
She was reduced to a number recorded in a book of plots.
No name, a number, 3287 that lies with hundreds in faded italic ink lined pages.
I remember in vivid detail the last day I saw her.
A long time ago on a bitter cold October morning, the grey blue sky sliced by sharp blades of blinding sun.
As always another surprise would await you in her ever-changing chameleon like wardrobe.
One day she would be a gypsy dancer, another a silent movie star or had just stepped out from a Rossetti painting.
That day a vintage French Zouave military jacket, her red hair held in check with a blue tasselled fez tipped at an angle.
Her long legs wrapped tight in white jodhpurs, black riding boots completed the look.
Emerald eyes flashed in the morning sun as she swaggered towards me smiling, breath hanging like log fire smoke in the cold air.
Ahead of her time, a timeless beauty like Nefertiti, proud, confident, daring, chic, classic, so all the clichés spoken.
I wanted to take her away from the decaying environment she lived in, a deep scar of despair and neglect.
To somewhere more vibrant, exotic and exciting, somewhere full of life and colour in the world I had dreamed of.
'Come with me?' I asked her, fighting to defeat attacking tears.
'When ?' she laughed, and mimed a circus horse trotting in a circle around me.
'Tell me...tell me...when...?' she pulled me in tight and kissed me.
3287 the lichen smothered slab read.
Her name erased, smoothed away with time.
She took her own life I was told.
I turn at the crunch of gravel and a young woman halts beside me with a bunch of wild flowers in her hand.
'Who are you ?' she asks sharply.
' I’m just passing… I stopped to look around…I’m looking for a number, three, two something or maybe...'
'Perhaps it's over there' she points.
'The flowers are nice' I say.
'For my mother' she whispers.
We stand in silence.
As she kneels kissing each flower one by one, I notice her red hair is held in check with an old faded blue fez with a tassel missing.