She was dying her hair the day she got the call.

She washed her hands at the sink and sighed into the mirror. There were still patches of grey in her hair. Somewhere the rest of the packet was sitting in her bathroom.

A woman walked in. She turned when the woman squeezed past her to the furthest cubicle. It was only a small bathroom, a small place, a small affair.

She left and walked quietly down the hall. The cream walls were bare of any decoration. Through the door at the end and she was once again in the small throng.

There were perhaps fourteen other people there. Three distant relatives, eight friends, two old work colleagues and one woman who stood on her own. She walked over.


The woman was older, perhaps twenty years older than her she thought. Her hair had no grey patches.

"Hello." She smiled politely, but her eyes diverted, wanting to be left alone.

She considered leaving it at that, but thought of the prospect of talking to one of the other's there, and hearing the same courtesies she had already heard enough.

"How did you know Ian?"

"We used to work together."

The woman was still smiling, but there was the hint of something in her eye. It was a smile of memories.

"Sorry I didn't introduce myself, I'm Leanne."

"Wendy." They shook hands.

She looked back to the thirteen others talking politely. If she could, she would leave now, but she couldn't.

"Did you know him well?"

"Well enough."

Of course she did, she wouldn't be at this small gathering if she didn't.

"What kind of work did you do?"

"Administration." The older woman smiled, one that signalled an end in her side of the conversation.

Thirteen others surrounded the small room. Near her someone was talking about wrinkled lettuce, a distant relative catching the news on a second-niece. There were four people she hadn't talked to yet.

"It was nice to meet you." She would head to the old neighbour first, then perhaps to the false redhead.

"You have my condolences."

The bathroom is small, the hallway has cream walls, there's a packet of half-used dye sitting somewhere, she has a stranger's condolences.