Janet Pywell ellie BravoIt’s Elly’s first day at her new job, drama ensues and she hasn’t even walked in the front door.

Monday morning. I am almost killed!

The traffic is manic. Barak Obama’s visit to Northern Ireland for the G8 summit, in the Lough Erne Hotel in Enniskillen, has delayed early morning traffic in Belfast. There are tailbacks and blocked streets. He and Michelle are addressing a group of young people in the Waterfront Hall on the River Lagan in the city centre.

I love them but I am cursing. I am late. A red Audi swerves across my path, cutting me up and squeals to a stop. I am forced to break my Harley at the kerb. My breathing is rapid. I pull off my helmet and I am swearing loudly when the passenger door opens and a slim brown ankle, followed by a long slender leg, emerges gracefully from the passenger’s side.

The body that unfolds is taught and straight. The woman has short blond cropped hair and she stands on the pavement straightening her skirt before she turns her attention to the back window. A smile lingers on her generous mouth.

From the back two scrawny arms reach out and grab the woman around the neck. A mop of brown hair and round glasses leans from the window and the two heads meet in a brief kiss. The woman laughs showing even white teeth.

In the street, a child cries a dog barks and a bus gun its smoky engine into life.

I pull long damp hair from the collar of my red leather jacket. Droplets of rain splash onto my face and I brush them away without taking my eyes from the scene in front of me.

A man’s voice shouts from inside the car. He inches into the busy flow of traffic leaving the woman to duck from the tight embrace, slam the car door, and take several quick steps not to lose her balance.

Just in time.

The Audi accelerates quickly, narrowly missing a blue van, before braking hard at traffic lights only a few feet away. A small round smiling face with Harry Potter glasses appears in the back window. The young girl with the mop of hair waves wildly. She sticks out her tongue holding two fingers, like horns, to her head.

In response, the woman makes a fist with her fingers and places it on the end of her nose waggling slim fingers and her pink tongue.

I laugh.

The lights turned green and the car, and the smile on the woman’s face, disappear.

When she turns our eyes lock.

I feel the heat of the stranger’s deep dark eyes. We might have smiled at each other but instead, we stare. Two awkward strangers; two people drawn together in a moment of brief interest, a minor web of curiosity each of us assessing our differences.

The fraction of a second lasts longer, suspended in time. A cool breeze blows against my neck.

A car horn toots.

The woman straightens her body revealing taught shoulders and long limbs.

Our invisible bond is broken.

I have been gripping my helmet. My long hair has fallen forward over my face and when I look up the woman has gone.

I secure the bike and pull crumpled directions from my pocket.

The streets are more spacious than in London. Here, in Lisburn Road, the buildings are smaller. Only two stories high, some have skylight windows in converted roof spaces. On the ground floor, there is an estate agency, hairdresser, Tapas bar, coffee shop, an expensive art gallery and several designer clothes stores. Above these retail premises, there are offices with red bricks and dark glass windows. The main entrance is hidden down a narrow side street. I read a brass plaque: Bizweb Solutions.

I take a deep breath and walk inside where I know Simon Tavner is waiting for me.