Among the stores we frequented most was a place named Judy’s. It sold the best wine, and by best, I mean cheapest. They also had a wide range of snacks, and some healthy shit too, but I wouldn’t know much about that. Meeko had perused that particular aisle when she was going through her vegan stage, but as soon as she admitted defeat, she retreated to the sweets along with the rest of us weak-minded souls.
“My favourites are the Jaffa Cakes” she would tell me as we eyed up what to get with the measly amount of money we had left after spending the majority of our wages on rent.
“I like to peel off the top layer of chocolate carefully, and then suck the orange jam beneath. Sometimes I eat the sponge, but then sometimes I throw it out the window for the pigeons to eat.”
She told me this as if it were of great interest, which, despite the somewhat mundane nature of the subject matter, it was. I always liked hearing about what Meeko found interesting. She had an eye for the overlooked; for the small things in life others had no time for, and yet what attracted me to her more than anything was that she wasn’t ashamed of her strangeness. On the surface, she was as pretty as a peach, and yet underneath her skin, she was miles from any shore.
“Pigeons need feeding too. They might not be as cute, but they deserve as much respect as a cat or a bee.”
Looking up at me with those big eyes of hers, she pulled on my hand and led me to a display of donuts with a cheeky grin on a face.
“Are you trying to tell me something?” I said dryly.
“No, not at all” she replied, first staring at her shoes before gazing at the donuts as if she hadn’t eaten in a week.
“Do you want some for later this evening?” I asked, “I think we should have enough money for them.”
Smiling at me, she shifted her gaze back to the display and took a step towards it. Touching the packets as if trying to decide which one to pick, I could see her bottom lip begin to tremble.
“Hey, what’s wrong?”
Moving over to her and lifting her chin with my fingers, I studied her eyes for signs of tears. None came, and yet I could tell she wasn’t far from crying.
“Come now, Meeko, tell me what’s wrong,” I said. “It’s nothing” she replied with a desperate sigh. Squeezing her chin, I gave her the look I reserved for when I knew she was lying to me. Knowing she’d been rumbled, she placed both her hands on mine.
“It’s just that life feels like such a landslide at times,” she said, “yet to struggle through with you is the one thing that keeps me alive.”
For as long as I were to live, I knew I would never again stumble on someone like Meeko. There were times when I hated her more than anything, and yet then there were those moments when she held my heart in the palm of her hand. She affected me in a way to which no one else would ever come close. I’d always believed that being human was a curse, but in a few words spoken while looking at donuts in a rundown grocery store, she made it seem like the sacred gift it was.