His black coffee is too hot to drink; when he goes to speak, a fly rests at the corner of his mouth. His lips – to her – look unusually voluptuous for a man but today they are thin, retreating; it seems impossible that they used to taste so full when she held them between her incisors. Fullness feels like an abstract concept to her, anyway.
“Why is it that when we want to articulate the most difficult things we can only come up with clichés?”
“C’est la vie.” His smile is a wry one.
They are both trying to be clever. And evasive.
She is focusing on the environment. Saloon chic. Dark ochre. They are sitting uncomfortably close to the other customers; it’s claustrophobic, deterring any serious discussion.
He is talking – something about Kafka. She frets that she could be anybody. Everything he does is elaborately rehearsed, girl interchangeable auditionee. He is the lead actor. She studies his face and watches the transformation. Varnished blue eyes shrink to slight, murky slots. Facial features once strong are now rodent-like. Arms withdraw in fitful lurches towards his increasingly downy chest. Creamy white fingers taper into knotted pinkish toes. Back arches. Tail coils. Credibility withers, withers.
“… can’t make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself,” he squeaks, sniffing around for sympathy.
He seems so small to her; he seems to deserve her pity.
“You told me your deepest, darkest secret and you were crouched on the edge of the bed, hurting. I thought we were making progress. I thought you’d finally let me in. What was that if it wasn’t love?”
He is scuttling frantically in the opposite direction but takes a very short pause before replying.
“Right place. Right time.”
Lauren Vevers is a writer based in the North East of England. Her work has been published/is forthcoming on Hobart, The Cadaverine and Electric Cereal.