My stomach had been growling its discontent for some time but now sitting in the car with no radio on and only an uncomfortable silence echoing between Michael and me, the grumbling became more noticeably audible and I placed my hands over it and felt strangely embarrassed by the noise. I wondered if Michael’s tummy rumbled whenever he was hungry for blood.
‘You’re hungry. There’s a petrol station coming up, we can stop and get something if you want?’ Michael said quietly, not taking his eyes off of the road ahead.
‘You don’t mind?’ I asked, surprised he had even thought to consider my hunger.
‘You have to eat, Sarah. Besides the sound of your stomach rumbling is slightly nauseating’
I gripped the handle of the door tighter and suppressed the urge to tell him exactly what I thought of that. I didn’t fancy an argument in such a confined space. Instead, I reached forward and switched on the car stereo. Immediately it flicked to playing the CD already inserted. Take That pumped out of the speakers and I immediately leaned forward and switched it over to the radio. Michael grinned.
‘You don’t like Take That? I would have thought they were your era?’ he said.
‘They were. But I can’t listen to them anymore. Too many memories, not particularly good ones either’
‘Oh, really? I thought they were every young girls dream’
‘The only dreams they conjure up for me involve horses, running and blood’
‘A strange combination indeed’ Michael said thoughtfully ‘in that case, it’s probably better we don’t listen to them’
He reached over and pushed the eject button, wound down the window and threw the CD out onto the road. I imagined it shattering into pieces on the asphalt and gave a small smile. The radio was blasting some Arctic Monkeys and Michael began tapping his fingers in time to the beat on the steering wheel.
‘You like modern music?’ I asked, desperate to keep some conversation going.
He snorted a response.
‘What did you expect? That maybe I was into a bit of Vera Lynn?’
‘Well I don’t know what you’re into! You have been around a lot longer than I have. How am I supposed to know what you like? I don’t really know that much about you at all – what music you like; what films, what television programmes?’
‘Is it really that important to know what music or films I like?’
I flushed, more with growing anger than embarrassment.
‘Of course not, I’m just trying to take an interest that’s all!’ I said through gritted teeth ‘I wish I hadn’t bothered now!’
I turned my attention out the window, not really taking in the view as we passed by, simply trying to distract myself from wanting to slap him. I heard him sigh deeply.
‘Okay, if it’s really that important to you, I generally listen to whatever music happens to be around at the time. Elvis, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin. The eighties, in my opinion, was a grim decade musically. I liked the Brit-pop era. I’m not big on Take That, they’re okay if you like that kind of thing but at least they don’t make me think of horses or any other animal for that matter. I don’t watch many films, unless I’m taking someone to the cinema with a view to having them for dinner afterwards and by that I don’t mean taking them to a nice Italian restaurant. I have read somewhere that Di Caprio is very good, as is Depp and Kate Winslet, but I don’t recall ever having seen any of their films. I don’t watch television, mostly because I am never in one place for very long and am glad that I don’t as from what I can see it makes people talk less, grow lazy and get fat. Anything else you want to know?’
He turned and looked at me briefly and by now I was just staring at him, mouth wide open.
‘I can’t think of anything else right now’ I eventually said, still staring at him in amazed irritation.
‘Great. Is this the point when I am meant to ask you what music, films and television you like or shall we end the small talk?’
‘We can stop talking now. That would be totally fine with me’ I said stiffly.
Copyright (c) Lindsey Clarke 2011