Urban Volcano

Fiction by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

I looked at my watch. It was still two hours until I had an appointment with the representative of the publisher that was interested in publishing my stories.

Second sight — Illustration by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson
Illustration by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

There were two weeks since I had had a short chat with her after the poetry reading of the writing group Small Matters. I had been quite proud when she came up to me after my reading and asked about my writing—if I wrote something besides poetry. I told her of my short stories and we decided to meet over a cup of coffee in a downtown café.

My mind wandered back to the poetry reading and I tried to remember what she had looked like—the representative of the publisher. I could not visualize her face. I had been quite elevated when we met. Both because of my debut poetry reading and because of the attention she had given me. The details were covered in fog.

What if I would not recognize her again? What if I entered the café, walked past her without recognizing her and sat down at a different table?

She would surely be offended. Wouldn’t she just strike my name off the list of promising writers? My writing career would be over—before it took off. My career would crash at take-off—run out of gas before reaching the end of the runway.

* * *

I sat down with my cup of coffee and looked at my watch. It was still thirty minutes until our appointment. I was early. It was all I could do. That way I would not need to worry about not recognizing her. Now it was her responsibility to recognize me.

I looked again around me at the café. To be sure. I looked from one table to the next and focused on excluding the possibility that any of the guests could be the representative of the publisher. A man. Too old. A group of boys. Too young. Could this be her? No, she would not have brought her child with her.

* * *

I watched the woman with the child as she left the café. The clock showed five minutes past. Had it been her? Could it be that she had had a problem with finding a babysitter and taken her child with her? It had been intended as an informal meeting anyway. Had my fear become reality? Had she left the café in anger over my inability to recognize her?

* * *

As the woman with the child left the café, another woman entered—the representative of the publisher. I recognized her at once. How could I have doubted?