Simon had a feeling it was going to fall on his head. When he got home with the green, glass jug he was thoroughly intimidated by it. So he cleared a space on the top shelf of the unit and slid it in between his Conan Doyle’s and the stack of 90s cds. The shelf wasn’t quite wide enough but at least it was out of his eye-line. Still, he moved his armchair further to the left, just in case.
Why the hell had she given him a jug? He barely knew the woman. And there she was, that hot June morning, standing by the lifts with a smooth glass jug that filled both her hands. The light was caught inside like water and he half expected to see a fish leap out.
“You said green in your living room, yes?”
And he had said green. Over the course of the last month he’d said a lot of things to her in the lift, going up. Told her about the flat, how much he was enjoying cycling to work now the weather was warmer. Looking back, he thought they’d laughed quite a lot. Every day, in fact. And then there’d been that week when she was off in Ventnor. And he hadn’t thought about her. The lift was just empty again – like before. And then, this morning, there she was. Her palms all glowing green and her face so hopeful.
Simon turned on the TV. The news was about atrocities. Simon liked to hear about atrocities because then he knew he was lucky. “You lucky bastard, Si,” he’d say to himself as he cut potato into regular chunks or stacked the old copies of The Guardian for the recycling. He’d make a donation to the emergency appeal. Because he was a lucky man in his safe flat with his potatoes for tea. But tonight his eyes kept flicking from the screen, with the anxious BBC man explaining, to the green jug on his shelf.
After the news – after slow, measured chewing – after he’d tried, for an hour, to sleep in his stifling bedroom – he climbed up and lifted down the jug. He wrapped it in three sheets of newspaper and sellotaped the joins. Simon put the jug in a bag from The British Heart Foundation. They could sell it in one of their shops.