THE CHALLENGE: My friends gave me a subject, a line, a word or an idea and I agreed to write about it for exactly one hour. Stream of consciousness. Unedited.
…And whether it is finished or not, I post it.
Start: 8:45 AM
End: 9:45 AM
Note: This was written at work, with frequent interruptions… I didn’t get as far as I would’ve liked.
I let my fork scrape at the apathetically flavored “catch of the day”, dragging swirling patterns into the beige cream it swam in. It was humid on the island today. A heavy, thick , salty sea breeze warned of an approaching storm threatening to halt our evening plans.
How long had we sat in this inferno of a patio since the waiter was last here? Hours? Days? I looked down at my watch.
I heard ice clink as it surrendered to the heat in my empty glass.
I looked up across the table at my travel companion. He sat, hunched over the table, shoveling refried beans into his mouth with a desperate ferocity of a pubescent boy. His dog tags chimed as they beat against his chiseled chest, outlined with delicate precision, like brushstrokes, by his thin white polo. The shirt hugged him close awhere his midsection created a perfect, concave slab.
He is beautiful. Tanned, Spanish skin absorbed and radiated the rays of the setting sun. Mocha eyes umbrellaed by thick dark eyebrows always slightly pinched in a furrowed brow, as if perpetually looking directly into sunlight. A jaw line that could cut diamonds and shadowed with light stubble. His dark curls were skillfully moussed into what looked careless and fresh-out-of-bed with the precision of a celebrity stylist. Long on top. Short on the sides. He tempted me with his limitless self assurance. A body like Adonis. He smelled like a shopping mall. His smugness both infuriated and thrilled me.
Thin lines hinting at 30+ framed a plump pout freshly hydrated by a tube of chapstick (as it was multiple times a day). They parted slightly as the corners raised into only the slightest smile, tempting me with a memory of the tongue that lived behind them.
Oh…that skillful muscle glided easily in and out of three languages, each with a distinct accent: the march of a harsh and piercing Bronx percussion when speaking English. The rise and fall of a passionate Florentine aria when he was filled with red wine and brave enough to let Italian phrases declare their desire. And my favorite, the seductive dance of his native island slurred Español , slightly curving at the tip with every rolled R as he said my name.
I returned to my food design… sinking deeper into my fat rolls and fully aware of where my stomach defied and spilled over any waistband. My patchy skin pulsed with heat from the merciless scorn of the same island sun that unfairly doted on him. A shapeless university tee shirt, faded and torn from years of abuse and over washing, stretched beyond its means to cover my midsection. My bathing suit soaked through where the letters had nearly faded away. Cotton bleach-and-wall-paint-stained shorts fought with my thighs as they continued to crawl toward my hips, allowing my mass to expand without restraint. My hair expanded widely and wildly, refusing to surrender to a comb… there was no hint at “beach waves” here.
I echoed the inner thought of everyone who had seen us together at this resort: What are they doing together?
I began searching for some sort of meaning or answer in the pink-and-gray mass that lay on my plate. I was growing more impatient, and dragging of the utensil had now progressed into repetitive, short, staccato stabbings into the lump of meat. My breath became sharper and increased with the growing flame of anger and irritability building inside my chest. My heart pounded in defiance; silent screams going unnoticed. Could he hear this deafening rage boiling inside me?
He was looking off, at nothing in particular, eyes squinted and brow furrowed. Still silent. Was he aware of this blatant unhappiness writhing before him? He was unphased. Relaxed.
I continued stabbing the defenseless dinner before me deliberately as my left leg bounced up and down rapidly. The ice danced and chimed along to my irritated percussion.
Before reason could stop me, I chucked the fork violently at him, smearing beige mystery onto his formally crisp white shirt. His head swiveled. He touched the sauce with his hand and looked down upon it slowly, as if discovering a gunshot wound in a Tarantino epic.
“Would you fucking say something?!?!” I heard someone yell.
Me. I was yelling. Making a scene. It was too late, I had completely exposed myself and it was too late to cover up, everything had been seen.
I felt my blood rise and pulsate in my ears. My stupid Irish face gave me away as I turned bright red. I was panting. I felt like a little girl. I meant to sound tougher, like a fearless, lioness who was absolutely fed up with the situation, demanding answers and taking no prisoners. Commanding respect with a loud roar. I mean, I was fed up, but my demand sounded more like a childish whine, a dog-like whimper, as my voice broke upon the crescendo of “something”.
I blinked away warm, angry tears but held his eyes in mine. Daring him to move.
“Cuidado, Miss.” The impeccably timed waiter said, as he swiftly picked up the fork and disappeared into the swinging door. I wasn’t sure if he was warning me to keep control of my fork, or my temper… Should I be cautious of utensils, or my travel companion?
His eyes were fixed on mine, and he sat, motionless. I remembered this look from childhood. His eyes reflected my father’s: a haunting warning before the reprimanding slap across my cheek. I felt a nauseating combination of shame and justification. But my will was insatiable; I was thirsty for blood.
At least anger was something. Passion was something. Better than this silent nothing he reflected back toward my repeated attempts to connect.
There’s a story here. I wanna finish this one.