Salad days

The salad accompanying the grilled piri-piri chicken and fries fairly stood up on the plate. Fresh crisp lettuce; tomatoes which smelled like tomatoes in the vegetable patch after the rain. The sweetness of the sliced onion compelled me to pop a piece in my mouth almost before the plate had settled on the table.

Normally, politeness dictates that one should not interfere with the waitress. My eagerness for the onion, however, caused her arm to brush against mine. The unexpected energy exchange in that brief gesture made her blush. Her questioning glance met my steady gaze and the hint of a smile. You are young, I thought, but old enough to know what just happened. Make of it what you will, I thought. She cleared her throat, almost imperceptibly, to wish me the customary “bon appetit”, before being hailed by another customer.

As I ate my lunch alone on the open deck, I reminisced about one carefree day on a wild beach long, long ago; how unpractised I seemed then in the art of flirtation, yet how keenly my senses remembered it all. Days like that are glorious, sensuous, explosive, improbable and infinitely complete. Days like that are meant to end for want of practicality. They are consigned to our dreamworld where they reign freely and have a language of their own, and wake and sleep as the fancy takes them. I have had countless better, deeper days since then. Real days and days that make love stay.

As I near the end of my meal, I turned my head ever so slightly towards the waitress without looking at her. She started, because she realised that all along I have been aware of how closely she has been observing me. I have been around the block, sweetie – at least once, I thought. And you are almost the physical double of that infatuated day, except sexier, I thought.

She collects my plate. I order a coffee and water and ask her to bring the bill with my coffee. When she returns, she finds it necessary to lean forward and go through the itemised bill with me. As she does so, she exposes her beautiful cleavage to me, and lingers for that fraction of a second too long that tells me this is an open invitation. Oh, this is so unfair! Does she not know that I have had my one exquisite day before the world began? That she can never truly touch my soul, or be the real one I crave?

I pay cash, with an appropriate tip. I say thank you, but not necessarily for the meal. I kick myself for giving her the once-over again, but as small consolation, say gently, “Remember, there is beauty in everything.”

I leave slowly and do not look back.

©2012 Allison Wright

This image provoked me to write the story above.

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