by Samantha Memi
There is a girl waiting. Her hair and skirt tousle in the breeze. Beside the girl is a tree and in the tree a bird. The bird is looking at a bug and thinking, Mm, juicy. The girl is waiting for a boy she met last night at a club. She was willing and he was able, so they went back to his place and had a good time in bed.
This morning each went their separate ways and agreed to meet at five by the old tree at the entrance to the churchyard. The bird chirps and whistles a tune. The girl looks at the bird as it ruffles its feathers but she doesn’t think, Cute little bird. She thinks, C’mon, you bastard, you’re half hour late.
Just as she thinks this, the bug takes off, gets grabbed, crunched and swallowed by the bird, and the boy arrives and says, —Sorry I’m late.
—That’s all right, says the girl.
—Got held up at work.
—Where should we go?
The girl wants to go into the churchyard, strip him naked and have her way with him on the soft grass, but says, —There’s a Café Rouge on the corner.
They walk along the street, evening shadows falling. She asks him where he works; he says he’s an undertaker. They walk in silence till they get to the café. Him, remembering her soft body in his arms. Her, imagining him washing a corpse.
She orders a latte, he an espresso. She looks out the window at the street, the driver of a red car is shouting at an old lady who is crossing the road. Other pedestrians stop and look at the driver.
The boy moves his chair and it squeaks on the floor.
—What do you do? he asks
—I work in the chocolate factory.
—That must be nice.
She wonders what he does with the body of an eighteen year old girl, mashed in a car crash. She wants to ask him, What’s the colour of dead skin, is it clammy, does it smell?
The coffees arrive. She puts in one sugar, he has five. She thinks this is excessive. She wouldn’t want to live with someone addicted to sugar; their moods would fluctuate too much. He wonders why she is so quiet when she was so chatty before.
—What do you do in the chocolate factory?
—I scrape chocolate from the conveyor moulds and put it in a tub to be reused. He slurps his coffee.
—So you like chocolate?
—Only organic. They don’t make it where I work.
—Why only organic?
—Because I don’t want to fill my body with insecticide.
—I thought all that stuff got washed out.
She wonders how anyone could be so ignorant of toxins in vegetables and meat. Not that she eats meat. But she supposes he does.
He looks out the window at a girl bending over a buggy, her skirt lifts and shows her red panties. He likes girls bending over but he doesn’t like girls with babies. Sluts, he calls them.
—Do you eat meat, she asks.
—Love it. I suppose you don’t.
—I’m trying to be vegetarian.
He imagines her bending over and wonders what colour panties she’s wearing.
—Why? he asks.
—Because it’s healthier.
—Nah, meat makes you strong.
But he knows she’ll be fussy and try to turn him into a nancy boy.
She thinks of the little bird in the tree with its melody to soften hearts and she knows he would eat it if he were hungry. He would be the driver shouting at the old lady trying to cross the road.
She finishes her coffee.
—I have to dash, she says.
—Okay, he replies. He doesn’t think about asking to see her again.
She puts the money for the coffee on the table.
—There’s no need for that. I’ll get them.
—No, I’d rather.
Outside, the traffic is noisy. She walks home past the churchyard, stops to look at the tree, but the bird has flown.
At the end of the month her period is due. As each day passes she worries a little more.
Samantha Memi lives in London. Her stories can be found at http://samanthamemi.weebly.com/