Seventeen

by themapofantarctica

The café was a crucible of weekend activity. Queues lining to the door for coffee’s and sandwiches, voices clashing against one another to the background of music that was issuing at a low volume through wall mounted speakers.

Three people hunched around two tables near the window. Body language explaining that they had just met, they were immersed in conversation. They were talking about the newspaper that was flat on the mans table. He had turned to face them. His back was straight and his head was tilted. The headlines were about the uprisings in the Middle East.

I don’t know why, said the man, we have to involve ourselves. We have proof that war does not work. Look at the last ten years for Christ’s sake.

One  of the women was nodding.

I feel for them, she said. I feel for them, but I don’t see what the answer is.

We can’t change their political systems, said the man, and that is where the problem is.

No, she replied.

The older lady, obviously the woman’s mother, was silent as the other two exchanged views, punching out at the paper bag of the world.

It’s all money isn’t it? Its all money these days. I look at the news and I wonder what it’s all for.

Don’t get me started, said the man. His hair was short and greying slightly. Politicians don’t speak for people like us. Not any more. They are too close to business, too close to culture. It didn’t used to be like that.

No, it didn’t. She had sunglasses perched on her head.

Politicians used to make a stand, actually represent their people. Unions, said the man.

Resistance, is what I mean. We used to have resistance. People who would speak out for the poor, for the underprivileged. She was gesticulating with her arms, making her hands into shapes.

They paused and the noise of the café rushed back into everybody’s attention.

It’s so different now, I look at my son and I think oh Lord, he is growing up in a cyber world. Its not real, she said.

The man nodded.

I want him to be out there, you know, learning how to interact with people.

They think they are being given choices, said the man.

He can’t even cook a meal, she said half laughing. Her permed hair glinted in the sunlight. He can email and buy things off the internet but he doesn’t know where to begin in the kitchen. She shook her head. When I was his age.

The older lady began to speak for the first time.

I sent him a text the other week, she said. He couldn’t believe it. He had to ask three or four times, didn’t he? Did Grandma send that text?

The man smiled.

Changes have happened that the world can no longer cope with.

I remember getting used to video players, said the mother nostalgically.

It’s like rights of passage now, isn’t it, technology? Nothing ages faster.

It went quiet for a moment as they looked at the traffic outside the window.

I know, I mean, it was different when I was young. I was seventeen when I first swam in the river, said the elderly woman. It was a big thing in those days.

They all stopped for a moment.

Her daughter smiled affectionately.

Times move on, she said.

They do, said the man.

 

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