Despite the physical evidence of the sun slowly sinking behind his head, turning the sky into an azure satin and the edges of his hair to a heated red, she sees her world as made of flat surfaces, where what is behind the corners is always out of reach from wherever she currently stands.
“Two more Smitticks,” he tells the waitress. He is smiling but his eyes are roaming nervously. “Smitticks…” the waitress responds, “Is that how it’s said? I’m new this week.” “Aye, lassie,” he laughs now, “the double-ya is silent and the aitches, well, they usually are as well.” “Most people round here don’t say it that way, are you from there?” “Aye,” he stays in character, “was raised on this as mother’s milk,” draining the pint, a thin film of wetness spreading on his lips.
“You’re so full of bullshit,” she tells him as the waitress moves beyond hearing, “do you ever stop playing?” But she is smiling. His performances spin the world around him, and at their best, well, as long as they stay away from the worst - she feels this surely, she loves the ride.
He stares at her hands. Always afraid of eye contact with anyone that matters. He trusts her as he’s trusted few people in his life, but he has never been certain of anything, not even that the sun will successfully circle the globe in the night and return in the morning, and so he still takes comfort in the infant’s belief that he establishes a certain level of invisibility when he dodges eye-to-eye gazes.
She stares at his half-closed eyes. She knows that on another side of her world of corners there is stability and comfort and reassurance, but from over there this level of magic would be impossible. The pints arrive, he asks for a mix of hors oeuvres that she never would have considered, but that sounds to her like both a fabulous meal and an inspiration. She wishes she could stand on an edge and be on two planes at once, but she has found that kind of balancing act exhausting and unnerving.
“You ever going to look at me?” she asks. “You’re so beautiful in this light,” he says, staying where he thinks he is safe.___________________________
copyright 2006 by Ira Socol