the diner (part
listening: pass in time
He calls her pumpkin. It makes her think of something that's roundish in shape, a pie, or the moon, perhaps. She wishes her ear could translate his well intentions into something more than a plump pastry, but it could not. It's either the pumpkin pie or the yellowish moon that always looks like there's an undiscernible face carved onto it, but not really. Like when you think that the clouds somehow look like a whale or an elf, but not really. It all depends on your imagination, she thinks. She finds herself depending more and more on her imagination these days.
He calls her other things, too, grapefruit, sweetpea, mywhitedaisy. To her, they never transcend their literal meaning. She silently objects to being referred to as plant forms. She hates all of them. But she hates being alone even more.
He wonders. Her pockets of silence, what are the seams really holding? Or is she just reflecting his silence, out of revenge and childishness? He's never been the one to talk much. Words for him are like eels: grey, slippery, mischievious. He doesn't trust himself to handle them. No, he doesn't trust them to handle him. There are too many of them to choose from, and who can tell if the one you chose best describes whatever you're describing. One of them could be better than another, or worse. One of them could describe too much, more than you wanted, leaving all kinds of leaks, all kinds of traceable aftertaste.
There are simply too many words out there, he thinks. Choosing the perfect one, the one that says just enough, never too much, would be an exercise in futility.
She unwraps the silver wrapper carefully, taking her time. They are at a diner, his favourite. The waitress passes by their table with her coffee pot, but both cups are still full. Getting colder, but untouched. She had some salad thingy, yellowish and wilting excuse for lettuce. They don't usually serve salad. It's not on their laminated menu, although it is obvious they need to make some new ones, unless it's more cost-effective to re-laminate the old ones (she doesn't think so). He had his usual. It's his favourite diner.
His face is half-expectant, like an eager dog, but she notices the other half is something else. Relief, she thinks. She doesn't quite understand why, it is amusing to her that he finds the whole thing cathartic. She chooses to hate and punish him for it.
She unwraps the silver wrapper even more carefully, taking her time. The right corner of her thin lips upturn, she's enjoying watching his relief slowly changes into something more dark.
Guilt, she imagines.
He knows she knows that the gift is a cop-out. An excuse from having to say things. A currency he's using to buy time. He's not sure if she's insulted by it, at any rate, she's smiling.That can't be too bad. She always frowns, at best looks disinterested, or perhaps, on a really, really good day, she tries to force a twinkle in her eyes, when he tries to put his feelings to words. Words he has meticulously, cumbrously picked, words that won't reveal too much. Revelations are for prophets and great philosophers, he thinks. The rest of us should settle with what we already knew. Like what salt is supposed to taste like. Like salt, obviously.
Like what love is supposed to be like. Like love, obviously. He amuses himself with the thought, while waiting for her to unwrap the gift.
previous entry: things to see, people to do (november 21, 2002)