When no one answers you knock again. Then again, loudly, hurting your hand. You hear a thundering of footsteps and the door opens. The smell of burnt toast.

'Yeh?' A guy stands in the doorway, track pants, no shirt, feet bare. The passageway behind him is gloomy.

'Hi. Is Jess home?'


'Jess. My cousin.'

He turns and yells, 'There's no Jess, eh?'

A girl appears behind him, 'Jess? Jess moved out weeks ago. Who wants to know.' The guy shrugs and wanders off.

The girl hesitates, 'Jess left.'


'You a friend?'


'Didn't even leave an address.' She looks you up and down. 'I suppose you'd better come in.'

You look up and down the street and wonder whether you should just leave.

Philippa J Burne 1996

e-mail pburne@peg.apc.org