16 July, 2008


Joe removes himself from the group, muttered excuse. He flicks five 10 pence pieces into the vending machine with equal force and listens to them make equal clinks. His left arm raises the flap as his right hand grabs the Skittles without touching the sides.

The packet's corner is torn off, five triangles from the edge. They spill onto the desk. Fast fingers and heavy breathing and soon all the green ones are in a line across the end of the desk. Joe lowers his head so that his chin is barely above the desk, and flicks the rightmost Skittle at the brown basket. Then the next one.

"What are you doing?"

It's his immediate superior, Bryan. Joe raises his left hand, one finger up, and Bryan just watched. Joe doesn't know what he is doing. But he's done it before every presentation he's done at the hospital. A Skittle bounces off the rim. Joe crunches his eyes shut. He opens them again after biting hard on his lip. It was the sixth one. He walks over to the bin and picks it up, and slides the rest of the Skittles in to it with his palm, leaving just the green miss on the floor as he places the bin back.

Bryan raises an eyebrow at him as he walks out the room.

"I've never even eaten a Skittle," Joe shrugs, as if it's a good explanation.

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