How to Eat Fruit
  A series of strange encounters with a mysterious woman changes one man's life for ever ...

How to Eat Fruit - Extract

Jacob had never seen anyone eat a banana in the way the woman in the café did. She was a tall woman, not beautiful, her burnished hair tied up in a green scarf. She sat down with a thump and stared around, challenging any to question her right to be there. No-one did. Her gaze slid over Jacob and didn’t stay. No-one ever looked at him for long.

The woman took out the banana from her handbag and laid it on the café table like an offering. From nearby a mongrel whined as its owner dragged it past the crowded shops. It was too hot for dog-walking, Jacob thought. As he watched the woman, she picked up a knife and cut the banana into four equal pieces. She did this with a surgeon’s precision, focused on the task alone. Then she split the skin on the first piece with her long fingernails and popped the soft insides into her mouth. Her red lipstick smudged a little as she chewed.

Jacob blushed and glanced down at his half-drunk coffee. Suddenly it looked very bland.

Taking occasional glances at the woman whenever he dared, he watched as she ate the second and third pieces of fruit in the same manner. The waiter hovered over her but she ordered only water before sending him away with a flick of her hand. He didn’t argue. When the glass of water arrived, she set it to one side and continued eating.

When she came to the final slice of banana she hesitated and looked up. This time, her eyes caught Jacob’s and she frowned. A moment later the frown cleared and she rose to her feet. She wiped her hand over her mouth, smearing her lipstick still further, and took the uneaten fruit from its skin. The white mass stuck to her fingers. Jacob couldn’t have looked at anything else if the whole of the café, the hot crowded street around him, even the city itself had all vanished away.

The woman stopped next to him. Close to, she was almost ugly but he found it didn’t matter. The scent of roses washed over his senses and he blinked. He wondered what she would say.

She said nothing. She simply placed the last slice of banana on his napkin at the table edge and took a step back. He thought a ghost of a smile drifted over her face but he couldn’t be sure. Still not taking his eyes from her, he reached across until he felt the warm stickiness on his fingers and raised the fruit to his mouth. When he ate, it tasted of roses.

She smiled. This time, it was obvious.

‘Why don’t you follow me?’ she said, her voice low and elegant. ‘We’ll see what else we can discover.’

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