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    Margot Livesey

    21. A Cloud of Facts

    By Margot Livesey

    One October day when the sky above the city of Edinburgh seemed greyer and more solid than the buildings, Morag met Marcel shoplifting. She caught his gaze just as he was sliding a bottle of perfume into the pocket of his raincoat. He stared at her steadily, a man of about thirty whose hair equivocated between fair and brown. Morag thought he might put the perfume back but instead, without taking his eyes off her, he pocketed a second bottle and walked, unhurriedly, out of the shop. When Morag emerged onto Princes Street a few minutes later with her vitamins and handcream, paid for and in a bag, she found him loitering outside the bookshop a few doors down.

    “What rubbish,” he said, gesturing toward a window filled with books about the royal family. “As if there were an inside story, as if we’d know it, if there were. Do you have time for coffee?”

    Morag hesitated, taking in his shiny blue eyes and clean shoes. When she first arrived at Edinburgh University she had had a wild patch, picking up boys on the street, but the overworked angel who looks after young people had taken care of her until she met James. A friend had introduced them because they both liked fishing. On their first date they had caught three trout apiece, and gone on to live together for eight fairly happy years. Morag had moved out last spring, her departure fueled not by any quarrel but by a pervasive sense of staleness. Now outside the other window of the bookshop a man in a kilt began to play the bagpipes. . . . Read More.

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