“Her hands are like icicles on the horizon,” he said and took a drag of coffee. She nodded blankly at him, barely registering the observations that swayed his tongue and flavoured his mouth. “Do you see how she’s shaking?” he asked, not taking his eyes off the porcelain doll ordering dinner across the room. He fumbled down distractedly to the table, found his plate, and devoured a fry in the half-reflective way that dressed all his actions.
To this, she murmured a vague, “Mmhmm…” It was enough of a reply to fill the empty space he controlled over the table, enough for him to be noncommittal and inattentive. She reached through the mess of their cups and plates to spear a French-fry from his plate. She shifted her weight. The chair rocked under her, threatening her already uncertain balance and attempted grace in one blow. She moved the feet of the chair, hoping to find some sort of equilibrium, but again the seat rocked under her, still precarious.
“Look at the angles to her face,” he went on, working his words around mouthfuls. His eyes never wavered in their stiff critical stare of wonderment and interest. “There’s just something about her that screams vulnerability.”
“Hmm.” She swallowed the hot, gritty remains of her tea. Her cup clunked as it hit the table, jolting the settled objects, but his attention never strayed from the other woman across the room. She picked up her croissant, then lowered it back to her plate seeing the tanned lines of her knuckles holding her fingers in place. She turned her palm up and followed the lines that traced her destiny.
“You really have to wonder about people like that,” he continued in the silence. “How they think, how they feel, how they see the world. Don’t you ever just wish you could go up and introduce yourself to a stranger and learn their entire life story?”
She took her croissant again and took a voice-saving mouthful, nodding her head disjointedly to glance at her tongue-trapped partner on the other side of the table. She sneakily slid her feet out of her shoes and flexed her toes in their freedom under the tablecloth-tiered table. The ache wrenched in her bones, and her thoughts drifted to the woman he kept talking about, and instantly she felt the emptiness and pain of rejection.
“I guess it’s time to go,” he said finally, still not moving his unblinking eyes or shifting his stranger-struck body. She mumbled affirmative and followed through with her purse. The crowded bag jostled against her hand in the fruitful search for cash. Dumping the entire contents out for the finding and usage of a pen, she scrunched up her eyebrows, figuring the total into halves.
“Mind getting this one for me?” he asked, raising himself up to gather his belongings before heading out the door. Still his attention wandered over to the daisy, blooming at the opposite table. “This was fun. Let’s get together again sometime soon, OK?”
She fell back in her seat, drowning in the whirlpool of inattention. Establishing their funds, she turned to see herself in the shadowy glass window reflection, and saw herself slipping away.