Who's Who 11: Proof

I should check my watch, he thought. Only he didn’t want to pull up any sleeves or pluck his hands from his warm pockets. That would let the cold in. That would let winter win and he wasn’t about to do that. This coat hadn’t been cheap. It was meant to be the warmest one money could buy. It was a camper’s coat. A hiker’s coat. The man in the shop had proudly declared that the army wore some version of it when they went on manoeuvres in The Frozen North. Wherever that was.

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Who's Who 10: A Matter of Scale

The scientists gathered that morning, as they always did. They parked their cars in their allotted spaces, after each battling their way through their own daily commute of roadworks, train delays or wrestling offspring into school uniforms. They made themselves a drink upon arrival. A few even had time to prepare a little breakfast. Nothing fancy. A slice of toast here. A bowl of porridge there. The occasional croissant or fad fruit sliced into yogurt.

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Who's Who 7: Keepsake

He wasn’t paying attention. He’d just flicked the TV on as he’d sat down. A bit of noise to fill up the empty room. Christmas certainly wasn’t doing the job. It was stillborn this year. He’d tried his best to put the tree up, but the branches weren’t spread as nicely as they normal and the lights were a mess. It didn’t help that he had no idea where anything else went, so he’d left all the other decorations in their tired, old cardboard box. Although it wasn’t the fault of the season that the house seemed hollow. It’d felt this way since she’d died.

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Who's Who 6: Moreish

Of course, all those big temptations are easy. If you’re going to cave to them, then you’ve been doing that long before you got here. Just one more bottle to make the pain away. Just one more pack, so I can get through to the weekend. I’ll quit tomorrow. I’ll quit in the new year. I promise. It’s all a dance that goes on through endless, sleepless nights or restless, sweaty afternoons. There’s no sport in that type of addiction. Not for the likes of us.

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Who's Who 5: Bearing Gifts

They always met here. When things needed discussing. When plans needed drawing up away from the prying eyes of their family. He arrived first. The eldest. He would order the first round and carry it carefully over to their table. Not that there was a sign on the table that sat beside the door to the little courtyard where people could smoke. It was simply written into the foundations of the place. This was Their Table.

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Who's Who 4: All You Can Eat

They made accessories of themselves and others. They lived by aesthetics. The right physique. The right magazine left, unread but skimmed, on the right worktop. Their unused, designer golf clubs sitting next to their skeletal framed racing bikes. Bikes that would squeal and throw up their handlebars should mud ever touch their shiny paintwork.

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