Eat that while it’s hot. You should drizzle extra virgin olive oil on it.
Was that the first thing she said? Neil asks. No, I reply, she said hello. And she said we should order.
She picked the place, right? Neil says. Yup, I shrug, she seemed to know all about it. By the way, it’s not like we were in a nice restaurant. Out of all the places we could have gone, she picked two old Italian and Chinese food trucks parked in a residential neighborhood. It was close to a park. Earlier, she’d texted something about how she liked to picnic there now and then.
Was that, like, meant to be special? Or just, a family place, where you couldn’t get up to no good? At this point, I sigh, any guess is a good guess.
Anyway, he says.
Yeah, anyway. . . I grabbed some pasta and fries. I turned around and she was still staring at the metal menu hammered to the side of truck. Her profile was nice. She has nice features. The entire time she was reading the menu her fingers were running horizontally on the board, like she was a kid learning how to spell. Then she would tap the price with her nails. Scroll down to the next option. I wanted to ask her if she thought it was a responsive screen.
After a couple of minutes, I was done. How come you’re confused? Are you thinking of trying something new? That’s when she got enthusiastic about the olive oil. I thought – do they even have olive oil to drizzle over the pasta here? But I said, don’t worry, I’m not fussed. Turns out that they didn’t. The cook gave me a look that said: what kind of establishment do you think we’re running here, Signor Arrabbiata?
By then she’d started to scroll and tap her phone. What are you doing now, I asked her? Just checking Google reviews for what’s good here. I must have gaped. She looked up. Did you get the oil? I told her they didn’t have it. She went back to tapping the phone screen furiously.
We walked over to a metal bench facing the park and sat down. I took a bite of the pasta and, you know me, I’m not fussy.
Famous for your low standards, Neil quips. My fist misses his shoulder by an inch.
I couldn’t take another bite. So, I put it aside. She looked at the pasta. Have some, I said. One bite and I could have sworn she hadn’t liked it. Not – I started – Bad, she finished. Not bad. Then again, No, it’s not bad at all. Finish the fries too, I said. They were cardboard. But she finished the whole damn portion.
Language, says Neil. I flip him.
Anyway, I say. Yes, he agrees, anyway.
It was getting dark. The sky was clinging to the sun’s fingers. It clung with everything it had. Even as the sun took with it the kids in the park, the songs of birds, its warmth, the sky seemed to cling to the fingers, freeing themselves from its grasp. I looked at the empty dishes between us. She was casually rubbing her arms. Aren’t you cold, I asked? No. No, I’m not actually, she said. I shrugged, ok. I’m feeling chilly through my denim jacket. And you’re fine in that flimsy dress. But she insisted she was fine. No, wait, she insisted she was warm.
Why don’t we get a dessert to go? I asked her. You said this was one of your favourite places. What do you usually order?
I have a major sweet tooth. But the tiramisu is so great here!
I got up, and went to the window, to order for her. That’s when the cook who, I feel wanted to say fuck off, said that they don’t do tiramisu. Never have. Never will.
The fuck? Neil says.
I know. The fact that they only had gelato. That they never had tiramisu. She wouldn’t look me square in the face when I told her. By this point, I couldn’t even tell you if both sides of her face were similar. Or if she was Harvey Specter. I couldn’t tell you the colour of her eyes.
Weird, Neil sympathizes. He’s finished his beer. There’s one chug left in mine. But I take out my phone.
Are you calling a cab? He asks. Because, mate, we’re literally sitting on the hood of your car. Deleting Tinder, I reply.
I don’t tell him I still have her number.
About The Author
Skendha is an editor for a digital magazine on higher education. Her poems have appeared in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Firth, Antiphon, the Poetry School blog, and Dundee Writes. She has one dog and hopes for many more.
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