Once Upon an Empty Restaurant

“Do you sometimes fear the unknown?”

“What? What sort of question is that? Who the hell doesn’t? It’s UNKNOWN.”

“Way to make me feel comfortable in a conversation,” he grumbled then huffed.

“Why are you trying to be so poetic all of the sudden anyway?” her intonation started to rise a little bit.

“How the fuck did you hear poetry in that?” He nearly screeched.

“Poetry, philosophy, feelings: it’s all mopy crap you love to pull at the end of the day.”

“You know I know you’re bullshitting. You of all people cherish feelings too much to compare them to poetry, your feelings, no doubt.” A smirk was playing upon his white, chapped lips.

“This conversation has derailed way too early. What was your question again? I answered it, didn’t I?” She said while turning to look at the empty tables that surrounded them. If dismissal were personified, it would’ve been her that very minute.

“No, no, no. You’re not derailing me this time.” The smirk has now crowned his newly-wetted-with-excitement lips.

Cocking her left eyebrow was all she gave in reply. Playing it cool was a feat she could only pull when terrified of eminent confrontation.

“Since we established that you’re a feelings’ incubator-”

“We established nothing,” she cut him off.

Since we established that you’re a feelings’ incubator,” he repeated with 2 more decibels added for stress, “who goes off like an American terror threat whenever a glimpse of your humanity is shown-”

“Where’s the question, Paxton?” She cut him off again.

“My question is,” he replied in an overbearing suave tone, “why do you stretch yourself to unimaginable ends to dismiss it? Why do you -he leaned over and scrutinised her while asking- go the whole nine yards to be rational?”

“Irrationality will cost me you.”

He sat back and couldn’t afford to give her his brand of quizzical looks. He expected a 7-minute speech on how he misread her and how he would die before figuring her out. After 10 seconds of trying to gather himself he barely managed to utter “elaborate?”

She shut her eyes for a frustrated 2 seconds. “No,” she said with pronounced exasperation.

“Well, I guess your rationality will cost you me.”

“Maybe your stubbornness will cost you me.”

“Maybe your… your… your stupidity will cost you me!” He nearly spat back.

She laughed at him until the guilt of the doubt of humiliating him started seeping in. “That’s the first thing you liked about me anyway,” she said while regaining her breath. He smiled as he saw her putting her hand on her chest and taking a couple more breaths. At that moment, he could swear he had never seen a thing so delightful, so full of life.

“It’s impossible not to fall in love with you.” The words just fell off his tongue.

“Do you pride yourself in having conquered the impossible?” She gave him one of her knowing, half-smug smiles.

“I think I’m in like with you, though,” he compromised.

“Nah, you’re just bored and I’m brilliant company.”

He chuckled, lit a cigarette, and sent a silent prayer to the Lord thanking him for the boredom he has bestowed upon him.

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Once Upon an Empty Restaurant

Routine

Brush your teeth. Wash your face. Apply mascara. A dash of lipstick.

Have your smile crack wide open like the dawn of day. With feelings you’ve barely scraped from the corners of your being and collected to the centre of your heart, hold them. Tell them you’ve missed them, even though you didn’t; even though all you did miss was your presence amongst them.

Brush your teeth. Wash your face. Apply mascara. A dash of lipstick.

Smile genuinely, with kindness you take pride in giving. Tell them how wonderful they look. Notice all the little, inconsequential differences; augment and dazzle them. Care, or at least pretend to do with some measure of skill.

Brush your teeth. Wash your face. Apply mascara. A dash of lipstick.

Smile with hilarity you find with the corner of your eye. Refocus your attention and fuel your laughter with the remnants of the edges of that frame. Today, you show a sliver of yourself; drop in a book’s name, maybe a movie’s. Smile with reminiscence and disappointment as they tell you: you have not changed, you’re very different.

Brush your teeth. Wash your face. Apply mascara. A dash of lipstick.

Realise the show is not about you any more. You’re the sidekick who gets kicked in the guts when the lead is out of wits and tricks. “Phew!”, you wipe the heaps of metaphorical sweat off your forehead. And so you carry on being the dutiful sidekick you are; you listen- no, not listen. You just hear, as garbles of discourse pass by your ears. You hear, you nod, you sigh.

Brush your teeth. Wash your face. Apply mascara. A dash of lipstick.

Smirk. That’s all you can afford to do when ridiculousness swarms you. Because you finally understand that hearing means reiterating everything you heard. Hearing means taking the flag from their hands and offer martyrdom for the cause. Hearing, in its most basic form, is lobotomy. How silly, you think, you have been to think you are something more than a projection wall. 

Brush your teeth. Wash your face. Wear your pyjamas. Write about it.

 

Routine