Billy, the Local Gossips, and a Woman Serving Life Sentence Wait for the Walk Signal

Three vignettes exploring relationships and personality through dialogue.

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

“I can’t believe this line!”

“You know what they call a line in England?”

“A lorry or something like that?”

“That’s a truck. No, a queue.”

“A kju? Why the letter kju? El makes more sense. El for line. Or maybe a zee.”



“The letter zee in England is pronounced zed.”

“They’re weird.”

“Sidewalks are pavements.”

“You spent that semester abroad there, didn’t you? How was it?”

“Wet. Historic. Educational—”

“Oh, have you watched that show Outlander? I would love to be born in that time.”

“Don’t men try to rape her like every episode?”

“But she finds her true love.”

“I couldn’t continue with it. Too much caveman-like violence. Too rustic.”

“Was England like that?”

“What? Rustic or men trying to rape women every time they left their flats?”

“Don’t be silly—”

“Daft. Silly, stupid, daft.”

“Are you calling me stupid?”

“No. The British are surprisingly direct despite their manners. They use daft, not silly.”

“Well, you’re not in England anymore.”

“No, I can tell by the weather. Sunshine.”

“England didn’t have summers?”

“You know what they call a thrift store?”

“Do I want to know?”

“Charity shop.”

“I see why you’re free today to come with me.”

“Billy no mates.”

“Who’s Billy?”

“It’s what they call someone who doesn’t have any friends cause they’re a bit odd.”

“You’re like this character from Rain Man.”

“What’s that?”

“Some old movie we watched in Character and Character Development class. It’s from, like, the civil rights era, I think.”

“I don’t watch movies pre two-thousand-and-one.”

“Whatever. So, is it true? Are English people, like, really proper?”

He takes so long to answer, she thinks he’s not going to, but then he shrugs.

“People are as similar as they are different.”

Photo by Armin Rimoldi from Pexels

“But what did she say?”

“What could she say? There’s no comeback to that. It’s a verbal bitchslap in front of hundreds.”


“Ok, fifty. But still.”

“But what did she do? She had to have some kind of reaction.”

“All she could muster was a weak ‘rude’ and walked away. But that’s not the bad part.”

“What could be worse?”

He looks left and right before signaling they’re crossing on the red man. “He left with his ex-girlfriend—”

“Shut. Up. Never!”

“—and he didn’t even tell her.”

Photo by Kseniya Buraya from Pexels

“The trash bags you bought aren’t the right fit.”

“I got the right size.”

“If they were the right size, they’d fit.”

“You said get thirty-two-liter bags, so I got thirty-two liter bags.”

“They don’t use liters here. You gotta convert it to gallons.”

“Then why’d you tell me in liters?”

“You were suppose to convert them.”

“Should’ve told me.”

“So, you have no idea what size bags you bought, then.”

“Yeah, I do. I bought the thirty-two-liter ones. Just like I said.”

“But they don’t use liters here.”

“Packaging said thirty-two liters.”

“Are they drawstring?”


“For a rectangular bin or circular one?”

“They don’t say bin here. It’s ‘can’. A trash can.”

“Why’d you buy the expensive ones?”

“‘Cause you complained about how thin they were when I bought the store brand.”

“So, what’s the plan for today?”

“Get these groceries home before this heat melts the ice cream and not fight over trash can liners.”

“Well, I put the spreadsheet in the shared folder. Household. Did you check that file?”

For the sake of her sanity, she searches her memory for the moments when their passion made forever seem like a treasure instead of a life sentence. “Yep.” She lies.

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