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They had argued. Arguments were common place between them in recent weeks. The stress of financial hardship bore down on each of them, bringing out their worst. They walked along cold streets, hands in their pockets, looking down at their feet or to the side, looking everywhere but at each other. It was dark and it was winter and so the town was shut down, or it at least seemed to be. The silence between them was heavy, interrupted only by the coins in Kweti’s pocket, which jingled merrily with his every step, annoying Minette further. The quiet of the town paired with the cold of winter served well to compound the loneliness which weighed on their hearts.
A small convenience store at the corner of the street was still open. Its neon lights shone like the white rays of a solitary beacon of hope through the foggy winter air which hung unmoving above them. A warm yellow glow radiated out of the shop’s one large window and cast itself on the frosted pavement like a bright yellow doormat, welcoming customers in. “Give me a minute”, said Kweti as they walked past the corner shop, his tone polite and appeasing. “I need to grab something.”
Minette wondered what it was that Kweti had to grab considering they were penniless. The last of their money were the coins in Kweti’s pocket. “Clink, clink, clink”, they sounded as he walked into the store, mocking their poverty. Minette waited out in the cold impatiently. She opened a fresh packet of cigarettes, the last she would afford for another two days. She stared-down the tunnelled street, lighting her cigarette absent-mindedly and pulling harder than usual on it, as if hoping to suck some warmth from the red cherry into herself. She pulled at the arms of her pullover, stretching them over her hands; and thought of her shift at work a day later, when she would earn enough money to stock up the fridge and maybe buy a pair of winter gloves from the cheap Turkish boutique two streets down.
Kweti sprung in front of her suddenly. He smiled his wide smile, towering over her as he stood with his back army-straight, the way he did when he felt proud. “Hey, these are for you” he said, lifting a bouquet of peach-coloured roses up between them. She looked up at him, smiling too. His eyes were wide and bright. She leaned in to the bouquet, catching the sweet, warm scent of the flowers and her heart was lifted. “Thank you” she said, and meant it, feeling the burn of tears at the backs of her eyes. As they continued their walk home the coins no longer jingled in Kweti’s pocket.