Francis – a character fragment

Francis stares at the blank pages of her sketchbook spread open on her lap. She holds a squared joiners pencil limply in her left hand, idly and unknowingly tracing shapes in the air with its tip. She lifts her gaze and looks over at the large clock on the wall overlooking the kitchen. Barely five minutes has passed since her last glance. The sweet scent from the biscuits she made earlier tempt her away from her position at the table by the window. She knows if she gives in it will be at another failed attempt to make a mark, any mark, in her sketchbook. How many days has it been? She doesn’t want to know. Too many.

The cat flap clacks back and forth as her ginger cat, Sinbad, enters and saunters towards her and weaves his warm bulk around her ankles. She returns to the blank pages in front of her for a moment before tossing the book onto the table and then bends down to pick up Sinbad. He resists and squirms out of her grasp to pad over to the the windowsill where he sits, tail wrapped around his base, surveying the garden beyond.

The biscuit tastes good, good enough for a second. And a third. Francis catches the crumbs in a cupped hand as she walks toward the open doorway. The light of the sky is bright but diffuse, oddly making her squint and wishing for a pair of sunglasses despite the lack of a sun.

Biscuits gone she reaches down to the upturned plant pot next to the door frame. Removing a cigarette from the cold and almost imperceptibly damp packet she attempts to light it with a luminously coloured cheap lighter bought from some forgotten convenience store late at night. She directs the exhaled smoke up at the sky as if it were an offering.