the diner (part 2)
(nov 26, 2002)

listening: the mess we're in pj harvey & thom yorke


part 1


part 2

If this gift can be described in one word, what would be it be? She ponders. She can't come up with one, a word that would describe the gift. Not the tangible part of its physical form, roundish or long or sharp, she's moved beyond that now. Now she's only pursuing the tense, agitated bits that are unspoken. The invisible, varying wavelengths that fill the air around them. It makes her muscles tense, the air is too saturated with them for her to move.

She runs her finger over his gift, now exposed to the musky diner air, the silver wrapper is taken care of. She looks at him. He looks decidedly guilty, she decides.

"You shouldn't have." She said.

"But I wanted to." He said. Short, clipped sentences seem to be the currency of choice these days.

"No you didn't. You needed to." Her finger circles the rim of her coffee cup. She's not looking at him.

He's not looking at her, either. The sugar shaker suddenly appears a lot more interesting. Like what sugar is supposed to taste like. He keeps his own thoughts occupied.

"What is it with you these days? Are you having an affair?" The accusation is quick, and almost casual. Her speed and disinterest almost shock her, and then she realises she doesn't really care. Then the realisation that she doesn't really care almost shock her, and then she realises that that's not new either. She's relatively placid, almost serene. It would be the most amicable breakup ever recorded in human history, if a breakup is to follow, she thinks.


He looks amused by the attack. He chuckles just loud enough for himself to hear, just inside his head. The sugar shaker has had enough of his attention, he now looks at her.

"You hate it that much." Still looking at her. She's so beautiful, almost iridescent under this drab diner lighting. Iridescent. Now there's a nice word. He wishes he can say it out loud.

"The gift, I mean." So why can't he?

"We can always go to the shop and exchange it." Who can resist an effortless charmer like you?

"I can always go to the shop and exchange it, if you're too busy."

"If you don't like it, that is."

Her silence only prompts his scattered grasps at dialogue further. None of which explain things that need explaining, of course. It's all this panicked, automatic response, like a man being attacked by a swarm of bees, his arms flailing everywhere, trying to hit all the bees.

He gets stung all the same.

Iridescent. Iridescent. It's a mouthful.


"Are you having an affair?" It is quick, and almost casual.

She pretends to be really absorbed in her new book, a collection of poems by this new author. She runs her finger over his signature, first page. There was also something else scribbled for her, just above the signature.

"I'm sorry, grapefruit. Forget what I said. Of course you're not. Something just crossed my mind. I'm sorry." He goes back to doing whatever he stopped doing for a few seconds.

Then he stops again. "And oh, your friend at the diner that day. Does he still write, like, you know, for a living? Man, I wonder how one support himself with something like that. It's not even, like, a real job. Right, pumpkin?"


// the end

previous entry: things to see, people to do 2 (november 25, 2002)