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"I'll trade you three nodeshells for some inspiration." She said with a smile.

He'd never noticed her before, but clearly she knew him. She was too confident, at ease. Her face was familiar, like the conductor at the station. Someone he saw every day, but never looked at. Now here she was, speaking to him as if he were a friend.

And maybe he was. How many times had he asked the conductor when the next train was? A hundred? Fifteen at least; some mornings he even greets him. If the conductor were to come over and talk to him now, would he know him?

He looked at her. For the first time. And noticed her piercing blue eyes, her sparsely freckled nose, the way she held her head slightly to the left. Yes, he thought, she is my friend.

"Actually, I was going to offer you the same trade. You see, mine might be slightly longer than yours, but they're still all just nodeshells."

"Maybe we should sit down together and try to build sentences and paragraphs out of them." She was looking him square in the eye, and smiling. If they were in a bar, he would have said that she was trying to pick him up. But they're not in a bar, and she isn't. He checked her ring finger: a silver Celtic band. Nice touch, he thought, this is a woman of translucent masks.

He snickered and shifted along the bench. "We'll be here for a while," she told him, "shall I get us some coffee?"

"Milk, no sugar. Thanks."

"I know" she replied.

When she returned, she had brought two bite-size chocolates: Aero for her, Mars Bar for him. His favourite.

And when she sat down and they ate their chocolates and sipped their coffee, they spoke of everything and they spoke of nothing.

Each time she spoke, her eyes searched his soul, stirring his blood, while her words echoed his innermost thoughts. He wondered how many conversations they had had before, that he had neglected to notice. He listened; to the sound of her voice, the way she said her vowels, the gait of her speech.

When he spoke, she listened with serenity, laughed with affection, smiled with understanding. Time stood still and the hour hand sprinted across the clock face.

As she opened the door to leave, a gentle gust of wind lifted one of the pages from the table and swept it onto the floor. He did not notice, so transfixed was he with her retreating silhouette.

She did not look back, and soon rounded a corner. He shut the door and fetched himself another coffee and a regular sized Mars Bar. Back at the table, he opened the wrapper and picked up his pen. Words flowed from the nib with the intensity of the first rains. He did not stop until he had exhausted every scrap of paper and had to go home to fetch more.

The next morning the cleaner bent down and picked up the piece of paper that had dropped under the table. As he put it into his rubbish bag he glanced fleetingly at it. Amidst the doodles, it said only:

I don't believe in you, you're not the truth

We are like searchers in a house of darkness

I am the only one you will see

For Byzantine -- Thanks for the CD

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