They’re always women.
She was in the foyer all afluster when I arrived. ‘I need a coffee, no maybe it should be a tea. Yes. I think a tea would be better on this hot day. Iced. Do you have iced tea?’
‘Just what’s in the cabinet.’
‘Oh no. I won’t be able to afford those. I’ll just have an ordinary tea.’
‘I’ll bring it to your seat Madam. Do you have the seat number?’
The contents of her purse spill out onto the counter but there is no ticket. ‘My friend bought them. She must have it. We’re not trying to go in without paying. I paid her so she’ll have the ticket,’ she said sending out frantic glances for someone who wasn’t there. She cancelled the tea. ‘I’d better have an icecream.’
The other staff member beckoned me over to her till and I too bought an icecream. I took it outside to eat because I was early and it was a pity to waste any of the unseasonally warm day. I sat on the other end of a bench with a woman who looked to be enjoying a moment of peace. After a while she said in the tone often used by those dealing with the inevitable, ‘I’d better go in. She’ll think I’m lost.’
I remained outside, letting chunks of ice cold chocoate and clusters of nuts fall randomly to the ground. If I’d been in the dark they would’ve ended up all down the front of my jeans, I thought as I watched them make puddles on the grey tiles. I hadn’t quite finished when it was time to go in. I was still a little early but there were two other women in the theatre. ‘How could she do that?’ they tutted but I was too far away to hear how she managed.
I finished my icecream. The seats began to fill. In the row ahead of mine, a nervous woman who hadn’t taken any notice of the “Only 10 seats left” sign in the foyer fiddled with her phone and told her husband ‘We’ll go to the back seats when the lights go down’. A staff member came in and two women from the back seats were sent to their assigned seats several rows down claiming loudly that they couldn’t tell their G’s from their B’s.Hahaha. Popular place those back seats.
Then in came the woman from the foyer. She was carrying two hiking sticks which she held under the arm holding the yet to be eaten ice-cream. The other hand she used to cling to the rail and lever herself up the stairs. At my row she stopped and checked her ticket. I heard someone say, ‘Yes, this is yours,’ and watched as she shuffled across the aisle and plonked herself into the empty seat beside me. ‘Now,’ she said juggling the sticks and the icecream, ‘let’s pray I don’t cough.’