By Dave Early
‘Can I get you anything else?’
Her eyes flash brightly through the shutters of her long lustrous lashes.
He raises his cup to his lips and shakes his head.
She turns to go…
‘Actually,’ he says over the rim. ‘Could I get…’ he hesitates, glancing superficially down at the menu beneath his elbow, before braving the exquisite sculpture of her Czech features, ‘… could I get one of your beautiful smiles?’
Ignoring the squirming in his stomach, he holds her gaze, waiting, anticipating an automated obedience borne from embarrassment. He hopes it will be more sincere a response than that.
She looks into his eyes.
Her mouth twitches.
She turns her head to inspect an empty table, a flickering flame, a shadow of memory… she tries to compose herself. But it is difficult. She licks her lips, chews on them, returns to face the man with the trite request.
She fights, hard… but it is an impossible victory. A smile breaks out above her chin, growing, reaching, broader and broader, bunching her cheeks into small red plums; a symmetrical row of polished teeth joins the foray, everything illuminating by her shining eyes.
He wants to take it further. He imagines the two of them curled up on a sofa; discussing literature across a pub table; fluttering eyelids and melodious laughter at his casuistic ways; total uncomplicated access to her petite body, kissing the top of her head, inhaling the scent of the conditioner lovingly applied to those auburn curls… He imagines…
She hunches her shoulders, giggles and turns on her heel. Her muscles in her back are exposed by the crenellated black top she wears, as she shrinks in the distance.
He pushes the cup away from him, drops a few coins in the soiled saucer and leaves by the back door.
Dave Early cannot be summed up in one sentence; one word perhaps, but not one sentence.