Over the summer, I was flicking through an old notebook and I found a couple of things I wrote a few years ago that didn’t make me cringe too much. Against my better judgement, I throw them on the mercy of the world.

From where he was sitting he was sure he would be able to see her when she came out of the shop. Average height, slim, dark blonde hair, she was never going to stand out in this Saturday afternoon crowd - but he knew he would recognise her.

He sipped his coffee, only half-aware of the town centre Brownian motion that made this task all the more difficult. What had his instructions been? Wait here and pick her up later as she was leaving. The Saturday shopping routine was that predictable. Shouldn’t be too difficult, he did this sort of thing all the time.

There were an awful lot of police-types around, but that’s not unusual for Belfast. They still made him nervous, though, and not just because they reminded him of the things they were supposed to be there to protect from, protect even him. No, it would be best if he avoided bumping into any of them.

Still no sign. He got up and found another coffee. These paper cups were useless - always ended up burning your hand, whatever the girl did with napkins or corrugated card, or some other clever idea of her own. He was glad of the gloves he was wearing. Leather offered good protection.

The crowd shifted again, countless individuals moving their own ways, unwittingly conspiring together to bring her into view already turning the corner at the top of the street. How had he missed her? As he got up again he managed to tip the coffee over himself - see, those cups are terrible, and what’s the point of the silly little plastic lid if it can’t stop him pouring scalding liquid over his legs? - and by the time he stopped swatting at it, she was gone.

Shit. He ran as fast as he could to the corner, but the same crowd that had moved to reveal her to him seemed to be working together to stop him getting to where he could see her again. He got caught behind two gossiping pram-pushers, trapped between the wall of Boots and a pointless barrier on the edge of the pavement. He couldn’t let her get away from him. That would be a mistake he would pay dearly for - when he was given his instructions, it was made clear that failure would not be forgiven easily.

Vaulting the barrier like someone in a movie, he dodged traffic to get round the corner. His quarry stood there, looking at him. There was nothing for it but to walk up to her and do what he came here to do:

“So, darling. Where do you want to go for lunch?”