Laughers are people who just keep on laughing. They use laughing as speech. And each piece of laugh is an actual sentence with words and eyes that only they can understand. These two started it at the door.
‘I don’t actually need any books.’
‘I want a copy of…..I had one….but I gave it away.’ They came in bursting with their own news.
‘Oh right. Lets look around. This is cute. Where’s your book anyway?’
‘I gave it away away away.’ They laughed low and long.
‘What is it?’ They laughed low and loud.
‘Ohhhhhhh. Ok. Ok. You getting it?’
‘Yeaaaah. Ha. Look at this: Jonathon Livingston Seagull.’
‘Oh God, he’s Jonathon Livingston Seagull.’
I liked their clothes: sandals and soft cotton things from another era. Everything she did, he admired. Everywhere she went he followed. She looked back to make sure. He looked at her making sure.
‘Do you like these books? Do you prefer to cook from a screen?’
‘I don’t know. Is this low carb? Is this good? Should I get it’
‘There’s this guy that I work with at work. He’s quite interesting.’ He followed her listening and prepared to not like that guy at her work who was not interesting.
But she’d already forgotten that guy. ‘Oh God, look at these cat books.’ He followed her, quite rapt and agreeing on the cat books.
They swayed on past me and I couldn’t hear them anymore.
Then they came back, and he read out my signs of advice over the front door: read wildly read wisely read widely. He looked at her wildly. With his wild eyes over the blue slightly crooked mask.
They went back to classics and stayed there on their knees, leant over books and talked in whispers about Saul Bellow for ages and ages, and outside, the hot day just had to go on without them in it for most of the afternoon.
Illustrations by Linda Rothchild Ollis and Magda Boreysza