In the corner of a long and narrow room, we sat warming ourselves by the heat of a radiator with our fingers linked across a two-seater table. The sound of the falling rain could still be heard over the chatter of those sitting nearby drinking their cups of piping-hot coffee. After a minute or so of people watching, the waitress came and asked what we wanted, with X answering for us both.
‘We’ll be having two cups of tea and a plate of pancakes, please.’
As the waitress moved away, X squeezed my fingers. On closer inspection, the lines around her eyes spoke to me of some great sadness in her life, and as if knowing what I was thinking, she squeezed hold of me a little tighter. It had been a long time since I’d held someone’s hand. Humans, in my opinion, were best avoided, and I’d done my best to avoid them all I could, yet here I was sitting in some greasy spoon smiling so stupidly at a girl I didn’t know. Rubbing her thumbs over the backs of my hands, she closed her eyes and breathed in the scents that danced around her nose. Watching as she swayed her head from side to side, it was clear that she wasn’t human at all, but a creature of some other place much the same as me.
‘Two cups of tea and a plate of pancakes’, the waitress said before placing them between us on the table.
‘I’d like some honey, too, if that’s okay’.
X didn’t even open her eyes when she said this, and I couldn’t help but sit there smirking as the waitress shuffled off before returning with a bottle of honey which she placed on the table without a word. When she left, X opened her eyes again and released my hands.
‘I hope you don’t mind, but I’m hungry, and nothing gets between me and my food’.
Before I could respond, she was squirting out honey onto one of the pancakes. Sprinkling some sugar on top for good measure, she rolled it into a cylinder, then with a knife and fork, cut it into quarters. Bringing each chunk to her mouth, she would swallow them whole, and the more she ate, the redder her cheeks flushed and the bigger her smile. Leaning back in my chair, all I could do was look at her. Going through the pancakes as if she hadn’t eaten in weeks, I sipped my cup of tea enjoying how warm it made me feel inside. After a time, she’d finished the last of what she could and blew out her cheeks to signal defeat.
‘Hungry?’ I asked.
Flashing her teeth at me, she leaned across the table.
‘No, not really.’
‘Well, thanks for leaving some for me,’ I said, sarcastically cocking my head to one side while eyeing up the feeble remains of what she’d left.
Leaning over to meet her, I brought my finger up and scooped some honey that had dribbled down her chin. For a second, she thought I was going to slide it into her mouth, but at the last moment, I brought it to my own and sucked the sweetness away purposely making a popping sound as the finger left my lips. Gasping at my cruel act, she kicked my shin under the table.
She was about to say something else, but I kissed her on the nose before slumping back into my seat drinking some more of my tea. Collapsing into her own, she clutched her belly before letting out a burp. Giggling to herself, she looked away then looked back with a grin.