He was explaining to her what it felt like to be fat. Remembering that time just reminded him of how blessed he was to not be there anymore. A straight jacket of skin and loathing. He kept stopping mid-sentence. His face reflecting the memories. It’s a prison, being fat. But it’s not like a jail where you can see the outside. When you are in prison the outside is much closer. There’s just the matter of a few bricks sitting between you and freedom. Like being on a date with a chaperone. Your basically together, you just can’t touch each other. Fat is a prison of time. You can’t stare out the window at your thin-ness. It doesn’t exist in the current time. The only way to break free is with months of good behavior.
He sighed to indicate a conclusion. He figured he was being dramatic again so nestled his chin between his fingers and pretended to look at something. He didn’t mind the silence but he was afraid she would feel obligated to say something. He looked at her forehead. It was his favorite spot to perch his gaze. It was long and curved like the smooth crest of a mountain. He’d like to be a raindrop landing on the surface. He imagined himself clinging to the slope and slowly rolling down into her eyes. He blinked slowly in reverence. It seemed she was lost in something. Even the pencil she fondled didn’t seem to care. She was taking inventory of the people. He watched her eyes scanning the room. He was glad she wasn’t listening. It was a stupid thing to say anyway. Around her, he felt stupid most of the time. He needed to leave this table. He was completely powerless. There was no place he’d rather be.
Outside their table two pigeons jousted over the remnants of a scone. He noticed a sense of equality between them. Neither was too invested in the other. They maintained a healthy gravity. Their bids for the next peck were forceful but unselfish. It was a choreography of the moment. Neither cared what the other would think. They seemed the best of friends. He concluded they were a couple. They met on Walnut Street Bridge in the Spring. The sun was setting, he cooed, she cooed. It was love at first sight. Here they were years later enjoying a meal in harmony. Lucky pigeons.
She had been listening. She had heard every word. She was wondering if she was pregnant. Her detachment from the idea was keeping her focus. At first she felt this must mean she wasn’t pregnant. Surely if she was she would “know” she was pregnant. She imagined her teeth would broadcast the news to her throat. Her throat would hear the news loud and clear. Then she wondering if the news was just a spec as small as the tiny foreigner inside her. Something he said made her think about gaining weight. Would her pregnancy be a prison? Why wasn’t she freaking out? She wanted to tell him. She needed to know for sure. She sat up straight, closed her sketch pad and inserted the pencil into the coiled metal cocoon. Her eyes met his face. He stopped talking conveniently. She said nothing as they packed up their things. She concluded this was none of his business.
She was highly intelligent and remarkably unwise. She considered herself global and open-minded. She saw most of the world through the holes in her nostrils. She paid respect to anyone more arrogant than herself as it was such a rare treat. She bought a cello for conversation. She professed a deep love for it which is why she never touched it. She wore brooding as a corset. He had never fallen so hard for anyone.
He was highly simple and remarkably ignorant. He could write a song by thumping a string. He was always reducing things to their lowest common denominator. He made coffee with a sock. He invented systems with velcro. He poked thumbholes in long sleeves and modified his wardrobe with special pockets. He never thought he was simple enough. She barely tolerated him. He was the perpetual devil’s advocate. He didn’t like being a minority, but he felt it was his duty. As if being a champion for the other side would someone protect him when he found himself alone among them. The other side. Where people spit, dogs pooping with unfettered abandon, drop their trash, and empty their ashtrays. You can do anything you want to the other side and still feel noble.