The Ex in Existential

With a casual air I pulled the book from my bag and held it open in front of my face, pretending to be engrossed as I picked at my lunch.

She usually came in about now.

Peering over the top of the pages I had a perfect view across the canteen; she couldn’t pick up her food without passing my table.

Mentally I rehearsed.

Oh hi… yeah, good thanks… oh this ?… it’s Camus actually… you too ? I know… I feel like he really understands the human condition.

This would definitely work.

I remembered her room at University back when we’d been a thing, she had that artsy French cat poster and the giant Michael Stipe.

Le Chat Noir: that was probably it.

And then she was here, stopping, staring curiously at me, presumably not realising that not only do I speak French now but that I’m also an existentialist; that this kind of cosmopolitan intellectual elan can’t be carried off just by sticking a picture of a scrawny moggy up on your wall and smoking roll ups under the sensitive gaze of REM’s lead singer.

She spoke: “Did you know you’re holding your book upside down ?”



This is the 24th story in my series of 42 short stories to raise money and awareness for Mind, the mental health charity. If you liked it and wanted to donate or find out more then please visit my fundraising page here:

This one was just a bit of fun. An exercise in a recent writing group class to do something in just ten sentences. I may have cheated a bit with the semi-colons, colons and ellipses…


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