Isabel slumped in the booth, weary and dejected, and waited for the others to arrive.  She looked up at the screen to the side of the bar.  It was depressing viewing.  The latest Trump gaffe.  The latest Brexit disaster.  North Korea.  The NHS. Climate change.  Everything felt like the world was going downhill fast.  If not a nuclear or zombie apocalypse then perhaps the world was just going to get thin, like in some of the places in the King’s Dark Tower.

One  by one, the others slid in to the booth.  As usual Mikey had a soft drink and was the first to lay down the marker that he couldn’t stay long, but everyone understood, because he had to get home and tag with Mary who’d had the kids all day and had to work tomorrow.

Cassie looked exhausted, and in reality she might well be the first to head off.  A punishing schedule of shift work on ICU, with the constant battle to save people who were not in a good way, was etched into her posture.  Of all the people round the table, she probably had the most right to complain, especially given the unfair disparity between nurses and doctors, but she never did.

Seb, the teacher, regaled them with the latest changes to the curriculum.  The need to get the kids through the exams whilst actually equipping them with the skills they needed was becoming harder and  harder.  Seb did a perfect imitation of his irritating brother, the university lecturer, who was constantly complaining about the lack of practical skills that the undergraduates had these days.  (As ever, this was of course accompanied by a recitation of what had been required in the ‘good old days’).  It was amazing that Seb still found time for these catch-ups – they’d all seen the marking that he had to do pretty much every evening.

Isabel loved these catch-ups.  However down-in-the-dumps she was at the start, she was always re-invigorated by the end of the evening.  Tonight was no exception and she started thinking about the march at the weekend, and the banner that she’d make.

© David Jesson, 2017

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